I am not a gardener in any sense of the word. When my husband comes back from being out of town, he doesn't bother to ask if I've watered the plants - he just grabs the water bucket and does it - first thing. I forget we have plants, although I like them.
So why, you ask, do I have a photograph of begonias on this post? First off, I'm thinking about creating a series of begonia images to transfer onto silk for scarves and custom fabrics. Second, I love begonias - I LOVE them. I cannot go past a begonia plant without sinking into a warm pool of 6th grade memories. Yeah, 6th grade.
Our family had just moved from England to Bad Kreuznach, Germany - undoubtedly one of the smaller military bases in Europe. I was in a new school with American kids (in England I had attended an all girls British public school), I was a crossing guard (power!), and I was a Girl Scout!
In Germany, we didn't sell Girl Scout cookies; we sold Girl Scout calendars - I know what you're thinking, but each month was a picture of a happy Scout doing happy Scout things - this was the 60s afterall. The other thing we did was earn merit badges. I was a badge hog; if there was a badge, I wanted it for my sash. And wouldn't you know? There was a merit badge for gardening.
Living in military housing doesn't give you much of a chance to garden. Our intrepid Scout leader decided we should help beautify the elementary school I attended. And by beautify, she meant, repotting 6,000 begonia plants into big round clay planters. Yes, you heard me, 6,000. And for some reason it was fun!
Was it the comraderie? Probably that was some of it. Was it the promise of the merit badge reward? Surely. But I think it was probably the first time I'd gotten my hands onto a live plant. Not only were they brilliant in color, but at the end of the weekend, I got to step back and see . . . a sea of begonias, that I had helped create.
I went back to that small town last fall; the military base has been closed for years, and many of the buildings have either been left to decay or have been retrofitted. My elementary school is now a place where special needs kids go to learn. As you see from the photo below, there aren't any begonias left - not even much grass. But that doesn't erase from my sense memory the experience. And if you look closely, you'll see begonias around my neck.