“The Inattentive Gardener”
Only the strong plants survive my ADHD mind!
There are weeds everywhere I look. The spring has been generous; our drought is over and the plants have been well nourished by a wet winter. The roses are flourishing, four buds ready to burst for every one that is blooming. They are a metaphor for my mind—full of ideas for the next big thing, but competing for time like these roses compete for resources, their roots clotted with weeds and their leaves hidden in the shade of other plants.
My grandparents grew food in their garden: beefsteak tomatoes, wild raspberries, Peaches & Cream corn. I meant to do that when we got this house. Every year I would choose plants carefully and prepare their place, pat the soil around their roots with hope and love for nature’s mechanics.
My thumbs, however, were not quite as green as Grandpa’s. My corn was spotty and short, my tomatoes lopsided, my carrots stubby. Nonetheless, I’d try again the next year, plan and prepare, always proud of the results.
One year I got no less than six ears of corn, each with nearly four inches of flesh! Another year I grew romaine, but it went to seed before I could pick it. I’d write about my plantings in my garden journal, inspired by the bugs and ancient treasures I’d dig up from the earth. Once I found an 1897 wheat penny and had to run to the Internet to learn that it had quadrupled in value!
Learning about my ADHD mind shed a new light on my yard. Without a neurotypical husband who finds maintenance routines soothing, the lawn would turn into a meadow. But of the plants I tended, I learned to love the ones that survived my spotty attention.
I met a young woman who is excited about sustainable farming. The past is the future, she said, and the closer we get to nature, the healthier our brains get. She and I got to talking and found out we both have ADHD. I wondered how she could make her gardens grow. She said it was meditation and an endless source of curiosity.
I had always wondered how my Grandpa’s garden had survived his ADHD, and now I finally understood. He was always telling me about potash and microbes and compost and worms and minerals, decrying a future of pesticides and factory farming. He was fascinated and passionate.
Me, I am inspired by the creativity and persistence of weeds, and the strength of plants that don’t have to be watered and coddled. Once I grew a pumpkin without even trying. But the roses, in this climate, are so resilient. They don’t mind the weeds. They just love the sunshine. Nasturtiums, being weeds, grow like gangbusters. My grandma used to harvest them for capers.
I did that once, then I lost interest.