Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Form and Function

I spent last weekend at my parents' house, which is in the suburbs. When we pulled in on Friday evening, Ben remarked on how pretty it looked. In the dark, I was hard-pressed to understand what he was talking about, but the next morning it was obvious. There were tulips blooming in front of the house, and low, bushy flowers creating carpets of color along the driveway.

We spent some time on Saturday afternoon helping my mom fill hanging  pots with flowers, and it was a glorious day. The sun was shining, and I even have a bit of a tan to prove it. There's just something so much more enjoyable about gardening in a pleasant, beautiful environment, as compared to my dreary, mostly barren rooftop. The soundtrack to our work was birds singing and insects buzzing, not the intermittent roar of the 7 train.

I approach my rooftop garden with a pretty utilitarian viewpoint: yes, I love it, and I love the process of creating it, but I put most of my limited time, energy, and resources into plants that provide at least some return on my investment, whether that return be in the form of tomatoes, carrots, beets, lettuce, zucchini, basil, or even just attracting pollinators to my otherwise infertile roof.

Last weekend had me doubting that approach for the first time. Maybe my vegetables would do better if I spent more time on the roof, which I'd be more likely to do if the roof was a glorious oasis in the middle of the city - or at least had some pretty flowers. Maybe I'd spend more time outdoors, and less time watching Netflix, if my little outdoor space was a more pleasant place to spend my time.

A week has passed, though, and the memory of that beautiful sunny day with the chirping birds has begun to fade, while budget concerns remain pressing and a particularly busy week and some very full weekends have proved that I have even less time to devote to my garden than I thought. The thought of spending money on ornamentals, and then having to find extra time in which to tend them, has started, again, to feel like a bit of a wasteful luxury. And after a few sunny days early this week, in which I could barely find the time to water, and a few rainy days following them, in which I didn't even bother to visit the garden because I knew I didn't need to be there to water, I checked on my plants Friday morning, and wasn't sure what I needed decorative plants for at all. After all, what's more beautiful than a pot full of arugula, newly sprouted? What's more enjoyable to watch than carrot seedlings turning into carrot plants? What's nicer to look at than spinach that finally looks like spinach?

1 comment:

  1. I want to learn to garden with you and your mom. The people across the street from us have the most gorgeous tulips. I want a tulip garden more than I want vegetables! Pretty sure I have a black thumb, though. My parents sent me a lavender plant for Mother's Day and I feel like it's already dying.

    Please take photos if you can!