Before you begin, throw on this most excellent playlist celebrating the glory of foliage.
Sowing Seeds – The Jesus & Mary Chain
Light Brang – Little Wings
Pale Green Things – The Mountain Goats
Garden of Serenity – The Ramones
Flower to Hide – Catherine Wheel
Field Below – Regina Spektor
Black Foliage (itself) – The Olivia Tremor Control
Grass Stain -Waxahatchee
In the Garden – Johnny Cash
Grotesquely Born Anew – Elf Power
1. Decide what you want to plant.
It’s totally up to you! Wait, no, not that. That’s too hard. You’ll kill it. You’ll kill it like you killed that poor helpless cactus. How does one neglect a cactus to death, anyway? It barely needs water. God, you’re a trainwreck. Anyway, how about wildflowers? They’re pretty hearty, mid-range plants. They already survive here.
They’re sure as shit surviving over there in the back corner of your yard already, where the grass is up to your mid-thigh because you don’t understand how to utilize a lawnmower in trying times. Maybe you can just dig those ones up and transplant them. Seriously, though, take care of that grass situation. Anything could be in there. Wasps. Scorpions. Pod people. Those girls who made fun of you in 5th grade for your baggy mom jeans. There are enough snakes in the grass, metaphorically and otherwise. Don’t give them shelter in your own back yard.
Nothing had been quite the same for Margaret since she'd uprooted that awful baby from her garden.
2. Purchase the necessary supplies.
Gardening gloves are about to become an essential element of your life. Remember when you got poison ivy in Louisiana? Teach you to be kicking around all slackjawed in the woods, that will. You didn’t notice until you were on your way out of that nice little cafe and looked down at your increasingly uncomfortable arms. To your horror, they were bubbling with a constellation of hard little white buttons.
On the flight back, you did your best to leave them alone, but you didn’t, did you? Those scars really complement your eyes. Think about that, and don’t stop thinking about it until you’re in the garden supplies aisle of Trademarked Home Improvement Store buying a pair of heavy-duty gloves. Better yet, dress entirely in chain mail. The resulting burns probably won’t even be fatal. Make sure you pick up a sturdy rake, too. None of that flimsy plastic bullshit for you.
3. Clear a space for your garden.
The thing about weeds, you see, is that the little fuckers will never be completely defeated. You can crawl around in the dirt for hours with a veritable Excalibur of a trowel. You can bathe in weedkiller and roll around in your yard (disclaimer: please do not do this). You can finance a cute little Cessna Ag-wagon and cropdust your own property with a healthy dose of Agent Orange. But there will always be that one stubborn little root that will not be displaced. Some may find that inspiring. You, however, will find it so aggravating that sudden death would be a blessing.
The best thing you can do for your own admittedly shaky mental health is to come to terms with the fact that your garden space will not be perfectly empty. Do not expect that from yourself or from the earth. Additionally, please avoid the temptation to write a shitty poem about the ruggedness of plant life as a metaphor for the strength you showed when you only cried a little bit after getting stuck in that traffic jam on the way to your therapy appointment.
4. Plant those seeds!
You’re standing in your yard, hand up to shield your eyes from the scorching midday sun. You’ve got your gun on your hip like Texas Jim and one of those frat-boy beer-siphoning hats filled with pure paint-thinning bathtub gin. It’s the moment of truth. These seeds shall never again see the light of day. Okay, now that you’re done picturing yourself as a badly photoshopped meme (why do you spend so much time doing this? It’s concerning), finish your damn Aquafina and keep your drooling hellhound locked inside to minimize potential damage.
Gently rake the earth to a depth of about 2-3 inches. GENTLY! This is not an Olympic raking competition. Yes, you are sweaty and tired. Keep going. It’s mindless, the sweeping swing and subsequent pullback, and your mind will drift. Let it. Don’t linger on the bad things.
5. Be good to your plants.
The great thing about outdoor gardens is that massive sprinkler system in the sky. Is it the weeping eye of the blood god? Is it aliens pouring chemical waste down upon us? Pretend you don’t know, especially when chatting with overly talkative passerby! It’s more fun that way. But when the temperature inevitably rises so high that the mercury shatters in your thermometer, don’t forget to water your little buddies.
Talk to them while you water them. Tell them fairy tales. Read them your gas bill. Reenact pieces of FROST/NIXON. They’ll hear it, and they’ll grow up healthy. Don’t let your dog sprint around tearing all the seeds out. Check for weeds on a regular basis, and repeat Step 4 if necessary.
And there you go! A lush field of wildflowers! Well, alright, it’s more like a scrubby half-assed patch of land with a few hardy souls peeking their porous little heads up over the dirt. You tried. It’s a lot like life, that way.