How Will My Garden Grow?

I am taking a gardening course, courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden. The classroom is just a couple of blocks away from my office. A six session course, complete with homework. It's ironic, in a way. My high school chemistry teacher passed me (with a D) out of the kindness of his heart, and I once said, "Math will never be relevant in my life." So here I am reading "Botany for Gardeners" and designing a circular house (diameter, anyone? How about circumference?)

Even though I have land, there's really no point in doing much in terms of establishing a garden before I build the house.

So taking the course is an expression of faith, really; the belief that someday this knowledge will be useful.

My parents were not gardeners. We used to have rosebushes on each side of the cement walk leading up to our front door--maybe eight total--and they pulled them out because they didn't want to have to prune them. We had flowering shrubs, but no flowers, except for the violets and buttercups that showed up on our lawn. We didn't grow vegetables either. The autumn before my mother moved out of our old house into her apartment, she talked about cutting down the maple tree in the yard. I asked her why. "It's the leaves," she said. "There are so many of them." I told her to leave the tree--which was dying, because one root had wrapped itself around the rest--for the people who came after us.

I've been thinking about my "dream" garden for a while, and I am overwhelmed by choices.

Since I'm interested in environmental issues, I've been researching native plants. But then I think of peonies. And lilacs. And roses. I think it would be fun to have a rose garden where all the roses would be ones named after famous women. I think of the Lenox tulip vases that my mother has and has never used and that I am determined to use before I die just to see what tulips would look like in them and I want to grow tulips.

I remember the plants around the house I grew up in, and, for sentimental reasons, I want to have them near my house: forsythia, mock orange blossom, bridal veil, lily of the valley, azaleas.

I want to have a moon garden. And an herb spiral. And a labyrinth. And a vegetable garden. And a garden full of witch plants.

And then sometimes, I just want to let the land just be.