I have always been awed and fascinated by nature. Even as a very young child, I’d follow my dad and beg to be allowed to work in the garden, putting the seeds in the ground, covering them up, waiting with excited anticipation to see them emerge from the soil and produce the crops we’d enjoy or can or freeze for use later on.

I’d also shadow my grandmother, Mamaw Braden, who was so skilled at raising flowers in her yard. I once thought she could take a dead stick, put it in the soil and soon see it sprout. That was likely due to my over-abundant imagination, but she did have some of the most beautiful plants all around her yard. I was fortunate to have her living just across the driveway so we spent a lot of time together before she passed away at age 90. I was 11, the youngest child of her youngest child, but the memories of Mamaw are just as fresh today as they were back then.

Perhaps the reminders of these two precious people in my life, and of my mother, who also had flower beds every year, are what keep me just as fascinated with growing things as I was 50-plus years ago. Whether I plant the seed or it volunteers, whether it’s for a garden or simply in the wild, the delight I feel in seeing what comes up is just the same.

Right now, I have a few pots on the patio with heirloom tomatoes and peppers, obtained from a seed-starting workshop in early spring. The seeds sprouted in my dining room, and each day, I watched them get just a little bit taller. Now, I was a bit late in getting them in the pots so they are still quite small but are doing well. The peppers, especially, are enjoying their new home.

As for volunteers, I compost fruit and vegetable peelings, expired produce, etc., by putting them in an empty pot on the patio and covering them with soil. You never know what’s going to emerge — I had cucumbers last year that were quite good. The year before, tomatoes sprouted. These came from a salad I had brought home for supper. I don’t eat tomatoes raw although I do cook with them, so I took the slices and simply laid them in the pots with a half inch of soil on top. They did very well and produced several tomatoes. I did not get to use them, though. I do believe my pet possum sat on the trash can and had a feast one night. That’s OK. He has to eat, too, I reckon.

My most recent volunteer is an apple tree, believe it or not. I like to leave plants in place that I can’t identify to see what they become, and lo and behold, when this plant grew into a sapling, now about 3 feet tall, I could tell what I had. It’s doing fairly well in the bucket. It would be doing better if caterpillars weren’t trying to eat the leaves.

My son found two camouflaged on the sapling when he mowed the back yard last week. They were immediately dispatched, and now I’m keeping a closer eye out. Unfortunately, two of the tomato plants disappeared overnight soon after. We’ll see what happens with the others.

One of the biggest delights in every season is watching the different flowers appear in their own timing. What lovely blessings, unfolding morning by morning! The irises, daylilies, peonies, roses and wildflowers in all seasons make each day an adventure for the senses. It won’t be long before a wildflower, summer poinsettia, will begin to bloom. This is another of those plants that volunteered in my yard, and I let it grow to see what it would be. I’m glad I did. I had not seen these flowers anyplace before, and they are so pretty.

Isn’t it amazing how such simple things give so much joy when we take the time to see them?

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at LindasInkyfingers@comcast.net.

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