I love plants. I think, perhaps, that I got this love from my mother. She and my father spent a lot of money extensively landscaping their half-acre suburban lot and her escape from us children was working in her garden. Instead of going jewelry shopping, her favorite place to visit in the springtime is the local gardening center to find new delights to make her gardens even more beautiful.
One of the earlier disagreements in our marriage was over buying plants. We lived in a small duplex in Utah while Brandon was going through the State Department employment process, and there was a little bit of bare dirt to put plants in. Eventually we settled on personal allowances, and mine went to plants.
In Egypt we lived in an apartment with a few very shallow balconies, but those I filled with bougainvillea and jasmine. In Baku I experimented with home container gardening, which worked out okay. We didn't have any empty spaces to put plants, so I had to stick to pots. In Dushanbe, I bought trees, planted wildflowers, and filled pots with herbs and flowers.
Our house here only has grassy areas with nowhere to plant anything in the ground, so I have to stick to containers again. Back in the fall I visited Chorsu, the main bazaar in town, and bought house plants and made plans to return in the spring when planting season began in earnest.
My Russian teacher does a wonderful job of helping me out with errands that overreach my Russian skills, so she agreed to meet me at Chorsu a week ago so that I could get all the things I needed to make our yard a garden paradise.
When I entered the plant area of the bazaar, I was amazed by the selection. I shouldn't have been shocked, as Uzbeks seem to love plants just as much as I do. Every few weeks, more planting beds pop up been put in the public areas around town. The highways are lined with new tree plantings, complete with sprinkler systems. I've even seen areas that are already covered in trees get interplanted with saplings. "Here's a little bit of empty ground," seems to be the thought process, "let's put a tree in it!"
Just inside the bazaar gate I found rhododendrons, azaleas, wisteria, hydrangeas (some coming all the way from Holland), irises, lilies, honeysuckle, and roses. After the initial offering of plants were flats and flats and flats of flowering bedding plants, tempting even the most casual gardener with their bright, cheerful blooms. Further in were the fruit trees - cherry, pomegranate, peach, plum, apple, pear, quince, nectarine, apricot - all planted in temporary rows of dirt that had been hauled in and dumped on the concrete floor. And to top it off were the ornamental trees and bushes, where you could buy anything from lilac trees to crepe myrtles (here they're called 'Indian lilacs') to bougainvillea.
I hardly knew where to begin. If I were in America, perhaps I would have set a budget, but I didn't even keep track of what I spent as I tore through the market, spreading soum lavishly around in my wake. If something looked interesting, I bought ten of them. Or twenty, or fifty. But the end of our trip, I had not one, but two cart men hauling my goods behind them out to the car and the whole of the car was filled with the spoils of my trip to Chorsu.
Then I set to planting. My pomegranate tree - which was supposed to fill in a mud hole dug by the boys - went in the backyard after I found that the mud hole inexplicably had a concrete bottom (we could have told you that, Mom!). My honeysuckle vines draped themselves artistically over the railing surrounding our pool cabana.
And everything else went into planters - snapdragons, floss flowers, cana lilies, zinnias, alyssum, and some local flower that I didn't recognize but liked the look of. I filled planters and planted flowers and filled and planted until I thought I would die of exhaustion. By the end of the afternoon, I realized with sick dread that I hadn't bought enough flowers and I didn't have enough dirt. I was going to have to return to Chorsu.
So that Saturday, my ever-patient Russian teacher met me again and again I liberally spread around the soum and returned with a car that was slightly less full. Again I filled and planted and filled and planted and thought about how really I would be happy I did this. Really.
And then I realized that I had forgotten my banana tree. I had a vision of a pool surrounded by tropicals and a banana tree would be perfect. So, I dragged myself (and my Russian teacher) back to Chorsu on more time. By then some of my plants had died, so I bought a few (seventy) more plants. And since I had brought a friend and she was perusing the selection for her own yard, I bought some foxgloves and a bougainvillea plant just for fun. Because what's the point of money if you can't spend it, right?
By that afternoon after I had planted over seventy more plants, I decided that I was done with plants. There are enough plants in my yard. I will enjoy their flowers and be happy that I have a lovely yard, but I'm not buying any more plants. At least until next year.