Last weekend, I discovered a small botanic garden in Albuquerque which is run by the city’s various garden clubs while showing my mom around town.

As I’ve written about before, I really enjoy gardening and tending to my plants, which I get from her.

Growing up, she and my dad were always working on some kind of landscaping project, and our house underwent various transformations through the years as projects came about.

When I moved into my current house last summer, they helped me spruce the place up a bit and revive a rose bush, which was on its last legs in front of the house.

Cameron Goeldner

There’s only so much I want to do at a rental property. I don’t want to sink money into a house that, in theory, I could be kicked out of in two months. Outside of the rose bush we inherited, I’ve put all my energy towards planter boxes and hanging baskets.

After seeing the Albuquerque Garden Club, I was inspired to try and branch out a bit from the annuals I’ve primarily planted, which have been pretty standard like petunias and impatiens. I went and picked up some globemallow and a red-tipped yucca for my backyard, which is where I spend most of my time when I’m home.

Covering a year’s worth of sports in the last two months has been a whirlwind, and it has been really easy for me to get caught up in it all and forget to slow down and take time for myself. Getting back out and getting to plant some new stuff helps with that.

Working on it with my mom now that we’re both fully vaccinated was even better. My backyard is a graveyard of failed landscaping projects, including what I assume was supposed to a pond with a water feature. Instead, it’s a pond at the bottom of a small hill filled with dirt.

Obviously, a project like that is too big for me to attempt to even tackle, not that I have any desire to anyway. I’m hopeful these plants do well and can be something that makes the yard feel nicer and more like home.

Being able to share that experience with my mom again was really nice and reminded me of my childhood when I assisted on frequent trips to nurseries, though I didn’t enjoy them so much then.

Now, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about xeriscaping so I can hopefully create something that is self-sustainable and I won’t have to spend as much time maintaining. It’s amazing to me the amount of time and effort that has been put in by various people and agencies figuring out just what can survive the conditions that come with New Mexico and, particularly, how much is capable of it.

I certainly didn’t expect to see things like roses doing well here, but they’re prolific around my neighborhood and generally seem to do quite well.

Seeing the way our rose bush has rebounded with plenty of new growth has been really exciting this summer. To see tangible improvement from something that seemed too far gone is really rewarding and hopefully blooms will soon follow.

One of my favorite things to do is to take pictures of these plants as soon as they’re planted, and come back six weeks later and compare and see how far they’ve come. I love projects where I can see progress in that way.

As silly as it seems, and it feels silly writing about it. It was amazing who being able to spend time with my mom again, even doing yard work, feels after a long year.

I love being in New Mexico, but it does get lonely and the pandemic exacerbated that. Getting back to the things I remember doing with my parents when I was younger feels like a huge step towards getting back to something resembling normal life.

Cameron Goeldner grew up in Boulder, Colo., and attended the University of New Mexico. He covers everything sports for all Valencia County schools.