Gardener spends time on his knees

Staff writer

David Fruth spends his noon hours watering and pulling weeds out of his flower garden for one reason: to watch them grow.

“There’s just something about getting dirt under my fingernails that puts a smile on my face,” the 74-year-old Marion resident said. “I like to come out when the plants are smiling at the sun. They’re happy. I’m happy. Everyone wins.”

Fruth is just one of Marion gardeners who are enjoying the warmer weather — and the benefits it brings to their respective gardens. Fruth started his annuals indoors in February this year, not knowing that the area would be hit by several cold spells.

“Flowers and ice don’t mix,” he said. “It made it hard to decide when to put them out; weather was too unpredictable.”

Now that the threat of frost has passed, Fruth said he has stopped throwing tarps over his flowerbeds. However, he said he never goes to bed before turning his attention to the forecast.

He said it’s become a habit — something that he doesn’t dare give up.

“My plants are my life,” he said as he wiped the sweat from his brow. “I care about them just as I would my own children.”

This year, Fruth said he planted sunflowers, zinnias, foxglove, and marigolds. While his plants are still young, Fruth enjoys watching them grow as the season progresses.

“They’re my pride and joy,” he said.

Fruth tries to get out in his garden as much as he can — usually four or five times per week — but he said it often depends on how he’s feeling.

“When you get old, you’re not always able to get around,” he said.

In the past five years, Fruth has had surgeries on both of his shoulders, and has had knee and hip replacements. While he has learned to deal with the pain, he admits sometimes it is hard to kneel on the ground and take care of his plants like he used to.

“I used to be out here morning and night,” he said. “But I just can’t do that anymore; some things just go to the wayside when you get to be my age.”

Fruth said when he was in his 40s and 50s he could spend an hour or two in his garden without a hat, gloves or sunscreen. He doesn’t have that luxury now.

Every time he steps out the door, he makes sure he is adequately covered.

“I don’t want to get sunstroke,” he said. “That’s why I clip my water bottle on my hip. Dehydration isn’t fun.”

Even when temperatures hit 80 and 90 degrees, Fruth said he still makes the effort to leave his comfortable recliner and take care of his flowerbeds.

“I can’t think about myself all the time,” he said. “If I didn’t go out there, my flowers would get thirsty. They need water just as much as I do.”

While he said there are times when he dreads leaving his air-conditioned home, he said he almost always feels energized after spending time in the garden.

“When you care for something, it’s magical,” he said. “It’s exciting; there’s a spark of electricity that goes through your body when you pull a weed or see the water seep down in the dry soil around a plant. Once you experience something like that, you never want to give it up.”

Meanwhile, Fruth said he knows all good things come to an end, and that one day he might not be able to enjoy his beloved pastime.

“It’s the circle of life,” he said. “Just like my plants I know that I too will wilt and die — not that I want that to happen anytime to soon, to me or my flowers.

In the meantime, he just takes each day as it comes believing that each moment is a blessing from God.

“He’s the author and finisher of life,” he said.

“I know if He wants my life to be over, He just has to say the word.

“So, every time I’m able to spend time in the garden, I say a little prayer of thanks… I figure I might as well, I’m going to be spending time on my knees anyway.”

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