With sub-zero weather at night, and snow covering the ground, we initiated the analage from which this year’s garden will grow. A garden is not an amoeba-like entity consisting of only one cell. Each year the garden is conceived, grows, and dies, silently awaiting its resurrection when minds and hands are told to act. |
The garden is not a place, a plot immoveable; it often travels the early season in and out of greenhouses, cold frames and other areas of protection as the gardener scrambles for an edge against the weather. The garden is not solely a local entity; additives such as Glauconite, also known as greensand, mix with the native soil, blending ancient sea creatures with the more recent topsoil.
Each year, the new garden’s plants are not unconnected with past gardens. Seeds may have come from great distances or they may have been harvested from plants located in the same area from fruits which date back extensively, known as heritage seed. Or, like relatives who visit each year, we can clone plants that provide traits we know, assured they would give us the characteristics that we want.
Our rosemary plant has been with us for about 15 years, and continues to thrive in its large, green pot sitting in a sunny spot in our living room. There are four main stems, each thicker than a forefinger, covered with scales that look like brown peeling paint. The stems divide and divide again and again until at the top of the plant, over one hundred thin tips are reaching upward.
It was easy to get almost fifty clones this year. We got out the heat mat, filled the seedling pots with a growing medium we knew worked well for rooting, set them in the plastic trays and filled them with water. The thermostat was set at 80 degrees. The mat was warming not only the water in the trays but our cats who found the unused portion of the mat that was covered with a blanket to prevent heat loss, and stretched out in luxury.
Most of the cuttings ranged from two and one-half inches to four inches in height. The bottoms of the stems were stripped of leaves, a diagonal cut was made on each stem (so it would not sit flat against the bottom of the pot and not be able to receive nutrients), and each was dipped into a rooting hormone (Rootone) and inserted into the soil.
Rosemary is a symbol of remembrance and friendship and has been used traditionally at weddings, sprigs often given to those in attendance, or inserted into the bride’s bouquet.
It is often said that smell retrieves memories more readily than any of our other senses. Its other uses range from herbal products for the body, to the wood being used to make lutes and other instruments.
Once rooted and transplanted into larger pots, our clones will be sold at the farmers market and given as houseplants and grown indoors, and set out in the summer. New Mexico winters can fall to below zero during January and February, and rosemary is only viable above 20 degrees.
There is something comforting on many levels about cloning rosemary: since we are not growing a plant from seed, resources are conserved, and it is sustainable over time. There is almost a familial feeling to each year as the clones are put out into the world, a continuation of the same strain that has been a faithful member of our family, sharing the years indoors in the winter and outdoors in the summer sun, setting on the south east side of our porch.
William F. Occam (1285-1349), an English monk and philosopher wrote, “It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.” Each clone becomes a symbol to others of what can be done to produce more with less.
Kobi Yomada advises that, “We must not only educate the mind, but also the heart.”
Through remembrance and friendship, we can teach the heart to give direction to the mind in finding ways that we can grow.
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