Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seeds, Sentiment, Magic

Sorry to illustrate a post about seeds with a flower I grew from a bulb, but hey, this is what's blooming in my garden today. The photo shows my little rock iris.

Today I started to plant my garden. Well, that's the truth if you don't mind a little embroidery. My garden is entirely indoors, so far, and all I planted was a slew of impatiens seeds.

It's hard not to get, well, impatient while planting those little buggers. They're small. Very small. I have to take off my glasses to see them. I end up hunched over the seeds and the flats like a clumsy horticultural Mr. Magoo. And so they make me feel old. Planting tiny seeds relentlessly tracks my presbyopia from year to year. (If you clicked on that link, you're probably young enough not to worry about it yet.) One of these years I'm going to need bifocals. For now, I can get by without them, but only because I can leverage my nearsightedness, Magoo-like.

Anyway. There aren't a whole lot of smart reasons to grow impatiens from seed. They're readily available from any nursery - even Wal-Mart. It's true I want a lot of them (for my too-abundant shady beds) and I'll save a little money by starting them myself. That is the official rationale.

If I'm honest about it, though, I'll admit it's not really about economizing. Not at all. I just love seeds. And so I'll promiscuously start almost anything indoors, weeks before I can really garden outside. I keep watch on the seed coat as it softens and relents. I'm spellbound by the improbability of the seed leaf emerging from its harsh husk, sometimes after years of dormancy, wakened from sleep by the kiss of moisture. I hold my breath in fear of damping off (the plague of seedlings). I'll dab my own spit on any recalcitrant seed coat that threatens to trap the leaves, then coax out the tender greenery. So much wonder and anticipation even before the first true leaves, never mind the flower and fruit.

I'm no different from my son the Tiger, who planted beans in his kindergarten class last week. He doesn't know exactly what to expect. He just knows they're magic. And he's waiting for that magic beanstalk to emerge, leading places only he can imagine.

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