Gardening with MS

Love spring rain and cool, cloudy spring days for it brings the green of life. -- Anonymous

I’m writing this at the end of May after all my annuals have been planted or hung on hooks, creating an instant garden where there was only barren earth and debris. By now, my perennials have leafed out and started blooming, too. Together they bring a festival of color to the eye of anyone who passes. This is partly why I make the effort every year. For the simple pleasure a flower can bring. Not one person is immune.

Indulging my passion

I’m very lucky that my own immune system allows me to indulge this passion. Although I’m allergic to certain kinds of pollen, the things I plant are not among them. And on the autoimmune side, my MS symptoms limit my gardening activities but don’t prevent them. Heat keeps me from working outside for very long. Bad balance and weak legs, too. But a few adjustments can still allow me to make my dreams a reality each spring.

Asking for help

For one, I’ve learned to ask for help. My brother and boyfriend did the heavier work. Without them, the flower beds would have gone without new mulch; the heavy concrete birdbath would still be in storage; the new climbing rose would still be in its pot. I appreciate them all the more because we are in our sixties now, and they have physical limitations, too. The older we get, the more level the playing field becomes. It’s a beautiful thing to see the light bulb of understanding blink on in people who were able-bodied until recently and didn’t understand how MS affected me. When three disabled people work together they can get an awful lot done.

Feeling pride and satisfaction

I’ve had MS for so long now that I’m used to gardening for five minutes at a time followed by 30 minutes of rest. It takes all day to do a small amount, but it does get done. Why do I bother? I’m going for the pride and satisfaction of sitting back and seeing this beauty where there was none an hour before — and knowing I did it myself.

How gardening is like golfing

For those of us who are passionate and obsessive, gardening is a lot like golfing. Always troubleshooting a problem and never really getting a handle on it is like catnip for us. Years ago when I first learned to golf, I went to the driving range and hit two buckets of balls: the first for woods and the second for irons. By the last ball my hands were hamburger. Overkill didn’t improve my driving distance. When I told my golfer dad what I did, he laughed heartily. One bucket is enough, honey.

The joys of gardening

Those of you who are gardeners know these pitfalls all too well. We first learn which beds get full sun and which get mostly shade, and we purchase our plants accordingly. Seems simple enough. But then our full sun plants shrivel and die, so we replace them thinking we bought a sick plant. The next summer, the same thing happens. We amend the soil, try a different fertilizer, to no avail. We give up on that particular plant and then get livid when a neighbor plants the same thing in their garden and it thrives every year!

But that’s the fun of it. Learning the quirks of our own little plot of dirt. For example, I can grow shade plants in a certain little area of my full sun bed and they don’t burn up. I have a hosta and a jack frost that defy logic in this way. I assume they are protected from the sun, sitting under a double shepherd’s hook with gigantic hanging baskets throwing shade on the ground a few hours a day.

Ah, the mysteries of nature. Hope you enjoy the photos of my little paradise.

Gardening with MS
Gardening with MS

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