Last spring I started a garden with six packets of seeds, a few bags of soil, zero experience, and a heart full of curiosity.
I’d formerly labeled myself a plant killer after a few basil plants and a cactus of all things had fallen victim to my hands over the years. Then I received an orchid from a friend after the birth of my first baby, and I was astonished to see that not only did it live—it actually died back and then bloomed again around my son’s first birthday. I’d previously believed orchids were difficult to keep alive. Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. Maybe I got lucky.
That orchid started a little itch in me to grow more. With our second baby due the summer of 2022 and a backyard full of opportunity in our new-to-us house, I set out to do just that—grow more.
Armed with the aforementioned seeds, soil, curiosity, and lack of experience, I got to work. I planted my first seeds—pale purple zinnias and Thai basil—on Good Friday, as good a day as any to bury something when you know you’re powerless to bring forth new life on your own. And so the wait, lodged somewhere between hope and doubt, began.
Things began to grow, but not things I’d planted. The previous homeowner, who’d painted the laundry room a sunny yellow and stamped the walls with bees and butterflies, had also planted a yard full of color. Her rose bushes and day lilies burst into life, and the sweet smell coming from the side yard lured me to a pair of lilac bushes. While waiting for the fruits of my own labor, I enjoyed the fruits of hers. I stuck floral decals to the walls of the nursery, and I sat in joyful expectancy for the arrivals of our baby girl and a garden of blooms.
Seedlings grew into green stems that began to bud. In mid June, the week before I gave birth, a heat wave rolled in. I fretted about those buds, about whether the air conditioning would stay on, and about my swollen feet.
And then the blooms opened. I’d planted, my husband had stepped out with a hose when I’d opted to stay inside, prop up my swollen feet, and read Maggie O’Farrell’s Instructions for a Heatwave (fiction, though actual instructions might have been helpful), but God—Gardener and Author and Creator—God brought the new life.
We arrived home from the hospital to a yard full of zinnias and cosmos and basil, bees and butterflies kissing those blooms, and with the loveliest blue-eyed baby girl in our arms. And in my memories of the summer of 2022, there she is, our baby girl with a flower for her middle name, blooming and growing right along with my garden.
God brought the new life.