nathan lyle

Gardening

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If you'd told me, when I was a child, that I would enjoy gardening as an adult, I'd have laughed hysterically and walked away knowing you were full of fertilizer. However, little did I know that my father's main hobby would so thoroughly take root and eventually bloom again after he was gone. When I was young, I remember getting dragged to green houses, being bored out of my mind, while my dad filled up the back of the caravan with what I considered to be way too many plants. The only thing I liked back then about my dad's gardening, was that it made for easy worm collecting for fishing. Well, ok, I did also enjoy eating vegetables right out of the garden. Tomatoes and peas were my favorites.

Where I currently live, I don't have room for vegetable gardening (with the exception of a small garden box I built specifically for the purpose) but I have gone a little overboard on decorative gardening, especially given that I rent. But with the whole Covid lockdown, I found myself needing to build something creative that wasn't digital.

My first step into my addiction was house plants. For a long time I had maybe 5 or 10 plants total. I tended to move a lot, so they would frequently not survive the moving around and changing light conditions. But a few did, and grew, and I found it satisfying. Two in particular... the first was a Christmas cactus, grown from a single leaf given to me on a date. It's now a fairly large plant, and has survived at least five home changes (I've lost count.) The second is a snake plant (mother in law's tounge) that was at my dad's funeral. There were a lot of house plants there and several of us got some of them. This one survived for many years seemingly unchanged, then when I moved to where I currently live it apparently decided it was time to explode with growth. It got really tall, and I ended up breaking off several clumps to where I now have four new plants the size of the original one. I never really used to care for how they looked, but it's grown on me. (No pun intended.)

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Before moving to Toledo, I lived in Saline, near Ann Arbor. While there I'd looked online to find a greenhouse I could get more houseplants at, and didn't have much luck in the immediate area. At the time, I was driving down to Toledo every couple of weeks to pickup or drop off my son, so I looked in Toledo and found Bensell Greenhouse which has become a frequent stop for me. (They've always got a lot of great choices and the owner is incredibly knowledgeable—and even better, she doesn't mind my constantly asking new questions.)

I'm sure my dad would have loved to know that the boy who hated going to the greenhouse now is known on a first name basis at one.

About a year after moving into my soon-to-become garden playground, I'd randomly decided to plant some of the seeds from a green bell pepper I was having on a hamburger. I put them in a small pot in my kitchen window. They sprouted and grew to about five inches tall, at which point I decided I should move them outside, in front of my home, where there was a dirt patch. The home owner's association maintains the lawns, but most of the units have about a three foot by twenty foot area where there's no grass, just very old mulch. They did really well for a week, then the lawn care people mistook them for weeds and whacked them away. I got peeved about that, so figured I'd make it obvious it was a garden space, and I put a little tilted brick wall along the front of it.

But Lyle's are not known for leaving well enough alone. I decided to build a little vegetable garden box, so I could better control the kind of soil they were growing in (since I'd be eating them.) That sat in the middle of the space, which left open space on the sides, which I then started to fill with ornamental plants, and it was downhill from there.

The photos below show the outside as well as some of the larger gatherings of plants indoors. (To get a feel for how much green there is inside, you have to walk through the place though. I keep finding new flat spots that need a plant on them.)

Before & After Front Before & After Side