quotidian: what grows

looking in


I’ve been taking my second cup of coffee out to the greenhouse at 8 a.m. This morning the thermometer read 4 degrees but by 9 it was 20. I wish I could share the scent–damp earth, tomato leaves (from the trays of June’s tomatoes; she grows interesting kinds and always has some to share: this year there are Persimmons, Orange Strawberries, Black Beefsteaks, Small Yellow Pear, Pink Caspians, Orange Cherry, Ardwyna. I have smaller ones I seeded last month, from saved seed: Black Krim and Romas. At the end of the pavers, Red Sails lettuce (from an early March seeding) is ready to pick. There’s also arugula, some Italian mesclun, and the spinach won’t be long. I have these things seeded in the garden too but it’s nice to have early greens to pick! By the spray bottle, one of the little olives from a half-price bench at a store in Sechelt, and on the ground, in the big black tub, an Arbequina olive, with tiny blossoms. While I was putting plants on the bench John built using an old cedar board from one of our trees, slow bumble bees found their way in. By the front door, where the stairs are yet to be built (but the risers are there, ready for them), I have a tub of water with yellow flag irises in it, and a pitcher plant (second shelf on the left, reaching out) to go in once I’ve replanted it. How long before the frogs find this new habitat?


I was thinking in the night, at my desk because, well, I couldn’t sleep, anyway, I was thinking how we are saved. I was saved as a young woman, late teens, by a summer job in a popular Victoria garden. I worked in the store, selling seeds and china, and after my second summer there (I worked there for 4 years), I also worked on weekends during the university year. I packaged seeds, learned to knit on my lunch hours with the older woman who taught me (though I’ve forgotten everything I know but how to knit a straight line and once people have scarves, they don’t really want more, even Henry, who is 4 and who told me kindly that he already had a scarf so no need to knit him another). I learned about plants then too, in theory, though I had no garden. I loved the early shifts when there was time to walk through some of the gardens to see what was in bloom because people would always ask, as they came into the store on their way home, What is the pink flower in all the hanging baskets, and I’d have to know. I was saved at that job because women who were the age of my mother gathered me into their circle, knitting and gossiping, and they didn’t suggest that I cut my hair or tidy my room or think about applying at one of the local banks to be a teller because honestly where would an English degree get me? I walked through the sunken garden, committing the names of the rhododendrons to memory, and once, when I was really early for my shift because I’d overestimated how long it would take me to ride my bike from Royal Oak to Brentwood Bay, I saw an archer come out of the mist, on his way to his car, which seemed impossible, but I was told he had a special license to scare away deer during the tulip season. This memory grows, grows, until it happened on subsequent mornings and on my walk around the garden, I found an arrow in a small birch, tipped with silver.


An ant is walking across my study window with a dead spider in its jaws. A robin is purposefully plucking at the moss that passes for a lawn. Daffodils open like unexpected suns. I am waiting for swallows, waiting for stairs, waiting for the frogs I hear in the night to find their new tub while the tomatoes grow by the minute.

6 thoughts on “quotidian: what grows”

  1. Oh, what a beautiful space, Theresa, and thanks for the meticulous tour. I covet that bench! I can’t imagine living with a tree that could be harvested to create a plank like that. It makes me realize what they say about poplars . . that they’re a weed . . is really true. I’m grateful for the shade and their trembling gold coins of leaves but they’ll never furnish a greenhouse. Enjoy.

    1. I love the bench too, Susan, and was so delighted we had the wood just waiting to be used. (Daughter has asked her dad to make a little table for her Victoria balcony with some of the wild edge cedar.) The greenhouse is giving me a lot of pleasure and some peace too, very welcome these days.

  2. Stunning! We are all celebrating the greenhouse’s inauguration with you. Love love love the bench. We are weeks behind you here; it’s wonderful to hear about your plantings and dream about what’s coming. Though I simply grow cherry tomatoes from the garden centre down the street, no notion of their names. This year I will try to find out their names. You always know the names – of everything.

      1. Weeding and housekeeping are vastly overrated. Save your ‘stellar’ for words and plants and cherished humans, I say.

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