Savannah: The Green-handed Gardener


My apologies, gardening friends, for my lengthy silence here. I am still recovering from the worst illness I’ve battled in decades — a horrible sinus infection brought on by traveling to a city with an inhospitable climate: Phoenix, Arizona. I realize many folks love it there, but I’m a creature of humid Eastern US forests. According to a good friend, that was my problem. She tells me I have “East Coast sinuses.” Even my doctor has encouraged me to avoid traveling back to the arid southwestern US as much as I possibly can.

By the time Wonder Spouse and I were flying home, I could feel the uninvited bacteria burrowing deeply into my sinus cavities. I was sipping my giant cup of iced tea from the airport Starbucks and daydreaming about my garden when one of the flight attendants interrupted my reverie. She asked if she could have the large plastic cup holding my iced tea when I was done with it. She told me she was a gardener, and she used the plastic cups to protect her young vegetable seedlings.

Paste tomatoes on May 24. Photo by Wonder Spouse using my camera.

Paste tomatoes on May 24. Photo by Wonder Spouse using my camera.

Never has a flight attendant ever asked me for anything beyond a beverage order. In the most unlikely of locations, I’d found a kindred spirit — a gardener! Of course, I told her that I’d be happy to hand over my cup to her, and I shared the fact that I also gardened.

Immediately, her face brightened. She smiled broadly, told me her name was Savannah, and thanked me. A half hour or so later after all the passengers had been served their beverages, Savannah surprised me by returning to my  seat with her IPad in hand to show me pictures of her garden. I was duly impressed. As I told her, she does not have green thumbs; Savannah has green hands!

May 24 -- tomatoes and other veggies.

May 24 — Our tomatoes and other veggies.

Savannah is originally from a Caribbean country; her voice carries the slightest hint of her homeland. Now she gardens in Albuquerque, New Mexico on two acres. She has a Wonder Spouse partner too, and from the pictures she showed me, they have worked wonders in that arid region.

She uses the plastic cups like the one I gave her after she cuts out the bottoms. They protect young plants from often harsh winds, and also the voracious rabbits that are her great animal pest challenge. I was tempted for a moment to think Savannah had it easier than me — only rabbits? No deer, groundhogs, voles, squirrels, and in my case, occasional marauding beavers? But her photos revealed why the rabbits plague her garden. It was the only green spot in the photos.

May 24 -- As is their habit, the zucchinis grew enthusiastically during our absence.

May 24 — As is their habit, the zucchinis grew enthusiastically during our absence.

Savannah waters her garden from a well dedicated for that purpose. Without that water, she would have no garden. But add water and her green hands, and wow! She showed me an array of happy vegetables, some lush Caribbean herbs sent by her mother that are essential ingredients to her homeland’s cuisine, and an orchard planted in the shape of a peace symbol. Her hubby wanted it to be visible in aerial photos — and it is! She showed me a GoogleEarth shot to prove it.

By this time, I was thoroughly convinced that Savannah had some of the greenest hands of any gardener I’d ever encountered. And then she showed me her orchids. Breathtakingly gorgeous plants — dozens of them — all blooming as if they’d just been taken from a speciality greenhouse. But Savannah doesn’t have a greenhouse. Her exquisite orchids obediently bloom as house plants for her. I was flabbergasted!

Salvia "Coral Nymph" on May 24.

Salvia “Coral Nymph” on May 24.

Savannah fights an arid, hot, windy climate to create her lush landscape, but that harsh environment does make one aspect easier for her than me. She has no weeds — not because she is an attentive weeder, but because that climate doesn’t support anything remotely resembling the weed jungle that I battle constantly. I was envious — for about 2 seconds. Then my sinuses reminded me why I’m not a fan of arid climates.

Wonder Spouse has been a trooper while I’ve been stuck indoors single-handedly (or is that nosedly?) ensuring the success of the tissue industry. He’s been out tying tomatoes and taking pictures, even rising early to harvest produce before morning temperatures grow too hot. He took all the pictures in this post for me on May 24. The garden has really taken off since these photos. I’ll show you more soon. I intend to write several catch-up posts to try to make up for my prolonged silence.

But this first one had to be about Savannah — the green-handed gardening flight attendant who fiercely nurtures her charges in a hostile environment. It was a delight to meet such an avid gardener in such an unexpected location.

Thanks for sharing, Savannah. This last picture is for you — my front water garden showing off some North Carolina natives that, like me, would never make it in your climate — even under the care of your amazing green hands.

May 24 -- the water garden flourishes.

May 24 — Our water garden flourishes.

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