I have the misfortune of having a painfully, progressing rheumatoid arthritis. My RA started when I was older. An older onset RA tends to be more severe like it is trying to make up past time. After eight years, most of my joints are affected. I have neuropathy in my feet and joint damage in my hands and feet. I walk with a cane when I’m out and frequently use a walker to get around at home. I am disabled. It has taken me a long time to admit it. But the upside is that I can make changes to my life so that I can manage in spite of disability.
The long cozy nights by the fire have given way to the longer days of spring. It is time to be out in the garden. My roses were amazing all through May. My clematis is covered in large dark blue flowers. Hosta fill one corner of my patio. All my herbs have renewed themselves. I enjoy the fruits of past garden labors and am encouraged to keep working in my yard.
My favorite Clematis
In the last few years, I have started using more pots for my gardening. Pots don’t require the down on the knees work that a regular garden bed requires. Fill a pot with soil. Add fertilizer and a plant. Water and you are in business.
Herbs are easy to grow. I have thyme in a pot with a small tree. Parsley reseeds itself and does well unless the quail find it. I added a dianthus to its pot for color.
Mint is in its own pot. I have a pot with an old chives plant coexisting with oregano. My French tarragon grows in a raised bed and is happy with the dry heat. The plant is about four years. Rosemary is abundant too. Herbs are satisfying to grow especially when you like to cook.
This year I raised a tomato from seed. It is an amazing and sturdy cherry tomato called Tasty Treat; It is a Burpee seed that is no longer being produced. This year my ambition is to collect the seeds from my tomatoes and then try to grow them next year.
I am decreasing my physical time in the garden. Instead, I am developing new skills with growing seeds in a nursery and starting plants from cuttings. I keep low maintenance plants and easy to use tools. I can keep my interest in gardening even as I am less physically able.
Last year I traded in my heavy garden hose for a lightweight expandable hose. It is a lifesaver. Light and easy to move. These hoses are more fragile than the heavy hoses. The trick is to buy one of good quality and to take good care of it. Mine is in its second year.
Being given the diagnosis of RA is a heavy life sentence. To live it requires determination. But it mostly requires the ability to adapt your lifestyle to your body’s changing needs. A good sense of humor helps.