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Not Only Bread, But Roses

Not Only Bread, But Roses

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Published by Kristin Moyer
A reflection on the value of beauty in gardening.
A reflection on the value of beauty in gardening.

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Published by: Kristin Moyer on Apr 01, 2013
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04/06/2013

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Not Only Bread, But Roses By Kristin C.

Moyer

Not Only Bread But Roses
I think the first flower seeds I planted were nasturtiums. I was in eighth grade, which seems a bit late for my first seed planting experience, but that is the first I remember. My mother gave me a piece of ground by the front steps, which I dug up with great energy, only to be repulsed by the number of insects dwelling in the ground. I panicked for a moment before I settled down to placing each wrinkled nasturtium seed in the earth, and covering them gently with dirt. The round leaves and bright blossoms of orange and yellow would be my reward. My grandmother Julia Ethel Stockton Crocker was the first gardener whom I knew as a child. I particularly remember her beds of roses. They filled one side yard of the house on Mt. Sequoyah, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and gravel paths separated the carefully-laid out beds. I have a photograph of my grandmother among the roses; she is smiling into the sun. She had beds of other flowers, and a very large vegetable garden whose crops she harvested and put by, but the roses were her particular joy. My grandmother came to roses late in life. As a sixteen-year old girl, she had asked her father for a bit of land, and on it she planted cotton. She picked that cotton, and sold it for money to attend a teachers’ college. I think of my practical, no-nonsense grandmother, and her roses and her cotton, and my mind travels to Tanzania and the small shacks I saw there beside the dusty roads. On the open windowsills of those shacks were tin cans, many with labels of vegetables still on them, and in the cans bloomed flowers. Vegetables are practical, cotton is practical, roses and flowers are not. What is this human cry that asks not just for bread, but for roses? My grandmother and my mother are long dead, but I think of them as I stoop over my flower beds now, pulling up weeds—the ground ivy, false strawberries, wild garlic, dandelions, and crab grass that flourish among the flowers. There is satisfaction in freeing the flowers from the weeds, and my mind finds peace in this ordinary act. Who needs other forms of meditation when one has a garden? When I straighten up, I can see Japanese anemone and lily of the valley and a fairy rose that soon will be covered with tiny pink blossoms—all gifts from my mother from her own garden. A week ago I took a packet of nasturtium seeds to my daughter’s house. I found a large pot filled with dirt, formerly a home to a tomato plant, and showed the seeds to my three year old granddaughter Emma Rose. I poured the wrinkled seeds, hard as tiny nuts, into my hand. “Look, Emma, these have flowers inside,” I said. Together we set

each seed on top of the damp soil, and then poked them under the earth. Emma’s dimpled hand and my hand together patted the soil firmly over the seeds. She watered the pot with her miniature watering can. “Now,” I said, “we wait.”

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