My parents’ house has a small garden, which my father has looked after since the family moved into the house a few decades ago. Since my mother was never interested in gardening, my father took up the gardening responsibility on one condition that nobody would ever interfere with his gardening method.
It’s my impression that my father had always dreamed of having his own garden and looking after plants. From Day 1 of our life in the new house, he was enthusiastic about the garden, looking after the plants and plucking grasses whenever he got the time regardless of the weather. When he was inside the house, he often stood by the window, marvelling at the fruit of his hard work in the garden.
The two neighbours on both sides of my parents’ house happened to be gardening enthusiasts, regularly hiring professional gardeners, and their gardens were always maintained gorgeously throughout the four seasons.
On the other hand, our family garden was very modest. It was mostly bushy, since my father bought more leafy plants than flowers, saying that they were easier to maintain at low cost, and our hedge was very sparse since it was once affected by a contagious plant disease and never fully recovered.
“Look at their gardens,” my father would often lament to my mother. “And look at ours! We need to invest more in our garden! What we need is a professional gardener!”
Since his request wasn’t approved by my mother, who thought that our garden was beautiful enough, my father started applying different creative methods to overcome the gardening challenges. Above all the issues in the garden, his biggest concern was the sparse hedge.
“Look at our hedge, it’s so sparse that everybody can see through it!”
Despite his obsession with the idea of having a professional gardener, my father never consulted books or gardening specialists when dealing with a gardening problem. Instead, he always chose to be guided by his own creative inspirations.
When I was about thirteen, he went through a phase when he thought that the answer to a more fertile soil for the hedge was to plant nutritious food waste underneath them. It was summer time and there were many fresh corn cobs at home. After we finished eating the corns, my father brought the bare corn cobs outside and started planting them underneath the hedge. According to him, corn cobs were very nutritious and good for the soil.
One day, my school teacher came to visit us at home as part of the annual routine check-in. My mother and I welcomed him inside the house with tea and snacks, and after about 15 minutes of chatting, my teacher thanked our hospitality and stood up to leave. We both followed him outside to see him off.
“Thank you so much for your visit,” my mother bowed to my teacher deeply as a farewell greeting when she saw something hard sticking out of the soil next to her toes. They were two fresh bare corn cobs.
As soon as my teacher left, my mother picked up the two bare corn cobs from the ground, looking totally embarrassed.
“Why does your father leave these things here?”
“Mom, that’s for the soil,” I replied. “Dad keeps them here to improve the soil for the hedge.”
“But how many years does he think it’s going to take for them to dissolve into the earth?”
For many years, my mother kept telling us how embarrassed she was that day when the two bare corn cobs were exposed to my school teacher in the last moment of his visit to our house. It was one of the many instances of my father’s intuitive gardening scandals.