I’ll try being nicer if you try being smarter!

Green Thumb Talea

I love flowers. Not just love, I LURRRRVE flowers. Even just plain old vegetation. It doesn’t even have to flower. Vegetation and foliage of any sort.

When I am surrounded by plants and trees, a different part of my brain turns on. I am in my happy place. I come from a long line of gardeners, women who took their gardens seriously. My family farm is still producing blooms from flowers my great-grandma planted decades ago.

Being around greenery soothes my mind. It just puts me into a happier, quieter, simpler frame of mind. I care for nothing but the shades of green, the perfect little buds and the amazing amazing colours only nature can produce in flowers. Watching bees do their thing is fascinating. Digging in the dirt and yanking out weeds is so stress relieving to me. I cannot walk past any little shop selling cut flowers without slowing significantly and examining them all. Walking down a residential street in downtown Toronto with me requires amazing and endless patience. I have to stop and admire each and every little front yard garden. I insist on pointing out my favourites to those walking with me, and if I know the latin name, I have to show off by reciting it and ensuring they know I was speaking Latin.

Thanks to my job a few years back at a flower farm, I know a multitude of plants by their latin names. Saying these names makes me feel really smart. At the farm, I got to talk to hundreds of people about their gardens. I got to design gardens solely comprised of different ornamental grasses, I got to help people design gardens meant to attract butterflies and songbirds, I tried to help pick out flowers more deer-resistant than typical plants, I got to design woodland gardens (my favourites) and help people who had fought against their clay soils for years.

I loved this job. When I wasn’t designing gardens with other people’s money, I was maintaining gardens that I couldn’t possibly afford to create or have on my own. I was putzing around in a greenhouse, inhaling the smells of moist soil, moss and brand new greenery. I was in my heaven. I was set to be promoted the next year, and due to circumstances out of my control, I wasn’t able to take the job.

That was it for me when it came to gardening. I live in downtown Toronto and don’t have a clod of dirt to my name. I can’t grow anything on my balcony, since it’s covered and very dark. I don’t live close enough to any urban gardens, where you can rent a plot of land to grow whatever you please, and plus they all have huge long waiting lists for other land-starved urbanites such as myself. I went from acres of land with dozens of display gardens and cutting gardens to not even a potted plant in sight.

Now, it may come as a shock to you all, but sometimes I get a wee bit worked up. I know, right? So having something so effective at reducing my stress was really beneficial and always very convenient. I grew up with a huge back yard, I had a job that allowed me to garden my little heart out, and then it as all yanked out from under me. I even did my third year undergrad thesis on native plant gardening.

All I have now is a plant I stole from work. It grows quite happily on top of my wine bar, but it’s really lame and (don’t tell it I said so), I don’t love it very much at all. It doesn’t fulfill my green thumbery needs.

So imagine folks, my joy, when I was asked to help fix up a friend’s yard. Oh, I was so there. I went over (AT 10 AM ON A SUNDAY!!!!), all geared up and ready to go. Me and her 7 year old son were impatiently nagging her, asking if we could go outside yet, while she got everything ready for our super yummy lunch in a few hours. Eventually I couldn’t handle it and just ran outside into the great blue yonder. They followed me eventually.

I got to weed!! I got to dig around in the dirt! I got to play with snails and yucky insects and smell the earth!!!

After weeding and eating scrumptious broccoli soup and yummy Greek honey dessert things and two (and a half) glasses of wine, I got to drunkenly garden. Imagine my drunken glee when my friend told me, as I was asking her where she wanted her new plants arranged, that IT WAS UP TO ME!!!!! Oh happy day.

Folks, I have an adopted plot of land now. Sure, it’s far away and it involves taking the Dufferin bus (if you’re a Torontonian, you KNOW what that means), but I have been told I have free reign on it! I’m allowed to buy plants and bring them to her house and insert them into the ground there!

This is gonna be the Best. Summer. Ever. Little does she know, she’s never getting rid of me until it snows. Throughout the summer, I’ll snap some pics and share my gardening pizzazz with you all.

I’ve also heard rumours of the back yard being converted to a vegetable garden. Oh, tomatoes, potatoes, peas and beans, here I come babies!!! I may have to bully her into planting peas just so I can eat them raw when the time comes. And for some reason, my mom always planted gladiolas in our vegetable garden. I can probably convince her to do that too. Though my efforts at being sneaky won’t work, cuz I know she reads this here blog. Of course, I can’t really turn it into what I want it to be, cuz…in the end, it’s NOT my yard. But at least I can play in it. I’ve often considered playing in other people’s yards, but those fantasies usually end with me being hauled away in a cop car, screaming about how I just really love green things.

I’m SO damn excited.


Comments on: "Green Thumb Talea" (11)

  1. kaylee2 said:

    I wish i could garden and keep the plants alive Lol!

    You can! Just some patience and some plant love!

  2. I have come from a family that is crazy about gardening. When I was younger and I went to visit family in Toronto, we would walk down the street and if we saw a town-house with hanging plants and greenery of some sort, my Uncle Alexi would assume they were Portuguese. How puerile!

    I have never been much a of a gardener, but seeing greenery calms me.

    If you’re downtown, they probably are….that or Italian! I love the Italian yards, they keep them so nice.

  3. Shit girl…if you lived closer to me I’d let you HAVE my garden. The poor thing. I just don’t have time for it any more and have let the mint, oregano, artemsesia and Russian Sage take over. I do have some lovely old roses (that I dug up from my Grandmother’s homestead) and I take special care of those babies…but everything else…phsssh. So, hey, if’n you want to drive approximately 3 hrs to play in dirt…you’re more than welcome to come on down!

    Dude, if I had a car, I’d be there! We could crack open the wine and you could hang out with me (cuz who doesn’t want to?) while I play in your dirt! Alas, I have no car….and no passport for that matter. It looks as though our gardening date is not going to happen.

  4. Aww, I’m so happy my dirt makes you happy! I weeded that whole back area this week! It’s clear and ready for — veggies!! You’ll love this, I have no preference at all for what’s grown there, only that my kitchen staples of broccoli, green onion, carrots and celery are included. 😀 You’re really good at gardening, my yard looks so pretty! Thank you!

    I saw! I even said to your dad at the reception that it looked all clean and good to go!
    Of course, I have no idea how to grow broccoli or celery…..I don’t think they could survive in Sask, so we never grew them. But veggies are easy. I show, I show!

  5. Isn’t it nice to have a wonderful, serene anti-dote to things that can get you worked up? I myself do not know how to garden, but (lameness alert!) the sound of birds chirping calms my spirit each and every time…or…whatever…nature’s okay I guess.

    Haha, Romi’s a geek! Birds are nice, except seagulls. I call them ‘hell-birds’.

  6. I think I suck at plant caring. Animals are in good hands with me, but the only plant that has dignity in my yard is a small cactus in a potted thingy. Congrats, Talea!

    You should hone your gardening skills with a comb of what you’re good at……an animal/plant thing. Try keeping a venus fly trap! Huh? Huh? Hahaha, anyways, good luck keeping your cactus happy!

  7. Call me when you go to May’s! I wanna garden too! And eat fresh veggies cause sometimes I forget how they taste.

    Oh Dufferin bus, you suck so much.

    I shall call you. And no doubt, we shall bump into each other on the ol’ 29 Dufferin. Cuz we’re freaky like that. Hey, nice shirt at work today.

  8. I am happy for you and your dirt encrusted finger nails. 😉

    Thanks man! Feel free to send a nail brush my way! Hehe.

  9. I’m really envious of your friend 😦 I am not able to have plants because I kill them. They die. I have a big front yard and this year I will not plant a damn thing. That means I’d have to WATER the stuff! Why, oh WHY cant you be my friend that lives in the same town as me? WHY? I’d DIE if someone ever offered to help me with this whole gardening schpeel! I love the way it looks, I’m just not so good at maintaining!

    I hope your friend knows how lucky she is. Life is not fair always *stomps away* GAH! Some people have all the luck, WHATEVER!

    Yes, you’d have to water them. BUT, if you go with plants native to your area (what would have grown there before europeans brought stuff over), those plants are adapted to the natural cycles and patterns of your climate. Therefore, if you’re prone to drought, they’ll probably have longer roots or a way of reserving their water, and it won’t be so labour intensive!
    Oh, if I lived near ya, I’d be alllllll over it!

  10. Talea!! This is your CALLING! You can seriously set up a side biz as a garden/flower consultant and I bet those hoidytoidyTorontoians would PAY you to help beautify their penthouse balconies!

    I’m SO excited for your gardening this summer – yes, many pictures and give us the latin – oo la la!

    You’re the second person to tell me that after reading this post. I didn’t realize my plant love came through so much! My cousin suggests I quit my job and garden it up too!
    Torontonians would totally pay for it, but it’s an oversaturated market and plus it only gives you work for maybe 2 and a half seasons……
    Maybe I’ll carve out a niche with container or roof gardening…..we’re big on high rise condos up here….

  11. Well Talea, there’s something else we have in common. Gardening is also one of my favorite endeavors. My hands are my main gardening implements. Turning fork, spade, and wheelbarrow next.

    “Digging in the dirt and yanking out weeds is so stress relieving to me.” I ♥ that line! Total resonance!! 😀

    Yep, hands are the main implements! I’m from the old school……..weeding required an old butter knife and a rinsed out ice cream pail! None of these ‘claws’ and herbicides and fancy tools…some good elbow grease and lots of time to think and be calm!
    Love it. I’m jealous you get the chance. Enjoy it for me!

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