Life is putting the plants out for spring.

My lemon tree with flowers

Its spring in a few days and I’m excited about putting out my plants. Every year it is a ritual and there are so many reasons for it and many directly relate to the trials of a creative and not-so creative life.

One particular plant is a seventeen year old lemon tree and that’s just an estimate-it’s probably a little older. It started as a seed, as my exwife told me “you can’t grow lemons in Texas”. 

My lemon tree with droplets in the spring

It’s never produced a lemon and only a handful of flowers in more than a decade. I’m hopeful every year but lack of fruit is the difference between growing from seed and growing a store-bought plant, which is a grafted stock from an existing plant, but that’s science and botany and another story to tell.

Last summer was probably it’s most spectacular year, full and desperate to fruit. This winter it showed my neglect with a lack of leaves and dried up broken stems. It sinks in the pot, lays over looking for bits of light but there is a spark in it, a life force that is ready for the summer.

Remnants of the Ocotillo

I dragged it outside and watered it, even feed it. I can’t fix the winter or make up for shortcomings in care but I can make this next summer the most spectacular and I will. 

I’ve always found hope in watching a dormant plant be born again in spring. Bits of green adorn ash colored limbs as if it were rising from the dead. During a very dark time in my life, the garden was a place for me to watch spring make everything new, every spring of new growth was like hope.

East Texas Redbuds

In our lives, there is always winter, a time where we crawl deep inside ourselves and find strength mingled with weakness, we throw off our broken dying limbs that don’t serve us anymore and we search for that green, that youth that hides in each of us.

This year, I’ve become a bit more realistic, there are less plants that I held over-the sambuc Jasmine which is such an easy plant as it long as it doesn’t get too cold and it rewards you with a wonderful fragrance that soothes and relaxes me in the spring.

Carrion Flower

Some plants brighten up the first day they feel the warmth but others are stubborn, they hold on to their dark and pensive state, the Occatillo, a favorite plant of mine because of its dramatic spiny disposition, it is gray, hard and thorny. I’m not sure if it’s alive or dead but you learn patience and realizing nature is on its own schedule, not yours.

It’s a great responsibility to take plants through the winter and I will be honest, I loose more than I keep. Winter is my introspective time, I don’t get the excitement and feeling of hope like I do in spring, maybe it’s the lack of light but I don’t take the responsibility of taking care of plants lightly.

The Garden in Summer

Plants take you out of yourself, much like pets and children, it’s not about you or what you feel like doing. My manic state tends to over buy plants and my opposite state tends to give up but in the end I have plants with strong roots that can take the winter and still recover in the spring.

Much like humanity, not all of us will be the same after winter, some of us will be stronger, some of us will change our path, some of us will want to give up but as long as winter lays itself down for spring, there is hope. 

Sometimes hope is as simple as putting your plants out in the spring.

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