I used to tell people I love to garden.
That is a lie.
The truth is I love just starting seeds.
Once the plants have grown past the awkward spindly phase and are safely in the ground, it's high time for someone else's passion to take over. My interest is gone.
There's a certain magic to germination.
Planting hope cocooned in death under dirt and detritus; adding drops of water, rays of sun. For stubborn seeds, maybe a little sandpaper to scruff or scarify.
With time - sometimes days, sometimes weeks - the green shoot of life appears and if all goes well, the plant thrives and grows.
There's a special name for the first leaves that appear in germination - seed leaves. The seed leaf, or cotyledon, is part of the embryo within the seed of a plant. The seed leaves do not look like the plant's mature leaves.
Botanists classify plants by the number of cotyledons. The cotyledons hold the food from the seed and give the new plant energy. The cotyledons job is prepare the plant for what comes next.
And what comes next?
The leaves by which everyone comes to know a tomato, or strawberry, or lavender plant. Leaves with points and hairs, leaves that smell acrid or sweet, leaves that will be eaten by pests and picked for tea.
The true leaves are authentic.
While the seed leaves get all the glory, a plant won't make it long without growing its true leaves.
And neither will I.