JOY OF GARDENING
By Rudy A. Arizala
According to the Holy Book, the Lord after creating the first humans - Adam and Eve, they were put in a beautiful place called the "Garden of Eden" where there were not only fruit trees but also flowering plants. Adam and Eve, tempted by the serpent, ate the "forbidden fruit and were driven away from that beautiful garden. Yet, despite their banishment from that garden, humans, since then became attached not only to fruit trees but also to flowering plants. They found joy in being amidst such beautiful and fragrant flowers, as well as in cultivaitng them in their own respective backyards or whatever available spaces. Thus, even in huge crowded metropolis like New York, atop the tall buildings one could find virtually a blooming flower garden or patches of green vegetations. An oasis atop the cement and asphalt jungle of modern cities.
The piece "Gloriade" - the joys of gardening, by Ms. Gloria Ong, accompanied by colored photos of various specie of beautiful flowers, is not only a testimony to such ties of humans with nature but also brings back to me nostalgic, beautiful memories of my childhood in my hometown of Infanta, Quezon, until I went to Manila to study. Also, memories of my occasional visits to my hometown when I was already in the foreign service and have a family of my own.
I said beautiful nostalgic memories because I remember my late mother who also found joy when she was still alive in raising beautiful, fragrant flowers in our little frontyard as well as in the balcony of our old family house. Nanay would not allow our household help to water her plants. She herself waters them everyday, morning and afternoon. She would spend hours tending to her flowering plants, caressing each leaf of her plants. I suspect that she even talks to her plants while tending to them. For the plants respond by growing fast, becoming luxuriant green and bear beautiful flowers within so short a time.
Aside from fragrant, beautiful flowers which provide sweet smelling air throughout our house, mother had also other plants, such as giant ferns she obtained fhrough one of her kumadres who had a plot of sweet potatoes and pineapple kaingin on the hillside of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Those giant green ferns serve as beautiful hedges on our frontyard facing the street. At a corner of the yard she also planted dwarf palm trees of the betelnut family, but they do not bear betelnut shape fruits but oblong almost round ones. She had also a pine tree called « Arucaria » standing majestically at the center of the yard.
Mother continue to tend to her plants up to the time she reached the ripe age of 90 years old.
When Nanay passed away, those plants continued to exist but ceased to bring forth lovely flowers. My sister who was left to live in that old house took over in caring for those plants. She dutifully waters them every day as our late mother used to do when she was still alive. But she told me during one of my visits to Infanta : « Kuya, I do not have the green thumb which Nanay had. »
When I took a look at those plants, I exactly know and understand what my sister was trying to tell me : Those plants continue to exist, but they have droopy leaves like that of weeping willows. Their once beautiful and fragrant flowers are now simply beautiful memories, unforgetful memories when Nanay was still around with us tending to her garden.