I used to be that little boy who could grow plants at will. It's the green thumb, people say. But I pay no heed to their suggestion.
Left under my own device, I scoured the city for herbs and tiny shrubs for my small garden. I pick them from someone's green corner (often without their permission) with the plants' roots still intact. The thumb-sized plants are then carted home in plastic cups half-filled with water. They are then replanted in infant formula tin cans and covered in soil dug from a family friend's unused pots.
The plants are left to grow, some at the mercy of passing children, with restless hands bent for destruction.
|Garden plants breathe life into a stale room.|
It was sheer passion that kept me going. None of the boys in the neighborhood would like to get caught doing gardening.
Not even the soon-to-be-gay ones.
A girl, who lived across the house was my sole companion. A convert to my hobby, she would ask for leftovers - stems with roots and leaves that were no longer needed for my pots. She would become my rival and partner at the same time. There were days when she would stay with me from noon to sundown, as I tend to my plants. And my mom got worried. She said, such friendly ties might grow into something deeper.
I stopped seeing her when we were high school freshmen. Mom had enough of our closeness after I went missing for a day. After searching the neighborhood for any trace of my presence, I was found at the girl's place doing some crafts using the leaves we've plucked from our plants.
|Materiel: Water Spray @125 pesos; Plastic pots @20 each. Uni-Top price|
The girl and her family moved to another house; a ride away from our neighborhood. She would have a new garden. With open space far bigger than what she had in their old apartment. I kept mine, still. I nurtured my plants while holding back the feeling of confinement. As months passed, new interests were beginning to take hold. And there's no one to lift my sagging passion; No one to keep me from outgrowing my love for gardens.
There was the growing addiction to video games - which consumed most of my free time after school. Pestilence also destroyed a quarter of my plants. Entire varieties of Gabi-Gabi and Mayana were nipped by molds. The San Franciscos wilted more often. Maybe because I hardly water them anymore. And when the dish garden - the very reason I got hooked to gardening - fell from its ledge, the passion suddenly disappeared.
|Plante: Creepers and soft-skinned shrubs @35 pesos each.|
No longer will I find myself with soil and dirt in my hands. And the herbs and shrubs that belonged to my verdant realms will remain a memory for a long time .
Still, I think of my old garden. Especially when I yearn to remember that happy place. I still keep in my head that image of that narrow curtilage, with the rays of the sun glistening when seen on the surface of wet leaves. The earthly smell of humus coupled with the scent of Oregano and Sampaguita blooms make me forget being a nuisance in the eyes of other kids. And the heart-shaped pink Caladium, while not as plenty as they used to be in the city, reminds me that once, I boast a row of its variety not even a hobbyist with better resources can put on display.
Such good times.
No wonder, I still try to recapture the old splendor even when the passion for gardening is no longer there. The many attempts in these last few years have always ended in failure. Not a single plant I bought from a nursery survived the brief reawakening. And the shell of plastic pots pile up, without nothing to put back as fibrous replacements.
The attempt goes on. When I feel restless; When sullenness overwhelms my springy spirit. When I lean towards dourness, and the idea of crumbling into dust, and being abandoned by love becomes a nightly forethought. It is in these seasonal tempers that I find myself getting out of my stale quarters to procure house plants in places that still sell them.
|So Begins The Eden Project|
In hopes that maybe, just maybe, I may overcome the hollow thoughts I have culled within, and to be reminded of the joys and pleasures there is to living.