I think you would like my flower gardens: each is multi-colored, overlapping, chaotic. Wandering my yard, you’ll see bee balm tickled by roses, pansies relocating beneath cranesbill, columbine dancing with poppies, and a tiger lily undaunted by the pink plumpness of an overhanging peony.
If you listen as you stroll from flower bed to flower bed, you might hear honeysuckle whispering its secrets, pinks creating a commotion, lemon thyme creeping between paving stones, and giddy daisies dancing to the chant “He loves me; he loves me not.”
I weeded yesterday. The sun warmed my back as tall spears of grass surrendered with reluctance and dandelions succumbed to my mud-slick fork. My hands stiffened by drying dirt, knees water-soaked, and heart content, I listed the lessons I’ve learned from my garden.
Work is required. I nearly abandoned my late-in-life desire to garden when Craig suffered a hard frost and most of my newly planted flowers observed Memorial Day by dying. A few struggled along well into July before giving up and taught me that knowing the difference between annuals and perennials wasn’t enough.
I had to be consistent with watering and fertilizing, persistent at weed removal and deadheading, vicious when fighting slugs and aphids, and careful about sun and shade requirements when deciding where to plop plants.
Patience is necessary. As my skill increased, so did my understanding of a garden’s ebb and flow. Trees and shrubs move at a majestic pace; perennials can take years to come into their own; and annuals sometimes burst big and then turn temperamental. All green things have their season: their month to flourish, their year to star, their time to struggle. They march to their own drummers rather than to mine.
Change is inevitable: I’ve quit trying to be the boss of plants. I now understand my job is to adjust as they defy my omnipotence by doing what they want when they want. While some make themselves comfortable in their assigned seats, others outgrow their space, creep out of bounds, hide as though camera shy, reseed themselves willy-nilly, or strangle their neighbors. And every year, beloved veterans give up and depart for plant heaven.
Perfection is impossible: Unlike humans, a garden doesn’t care about winning yard of the week. Every spring I hope my planning and work will result in a problem-free plant paradise; and every summer mother nature demonstrates her power: a patch of lawn abandons its former glory and turns scruffy with patches of clover; an aspen flecks the yard with diseased leaves; unusually hot temperatures burn red roses black; hail beats new clematis blossoms off the vine, and petunias fail to thrive in an area they loved for ten years.
Challenges are constant: Weeds never give up. Husbands voice opinions. Enough said.
As I learned to garden, I realized I was also learning how to live well and age well: work hard, be patient, and accept change, imperfection, and challenges.
Lessons for life learned in a garden.