This spring, I’ve been reminded over and over why I love gardening. I’m no horticultural expert, mind you. There’s just so much divine creativity at work in the flowerbeds that circle my house, it’s hard to keep track of it all.
Not that I haven’t been trying, of course. Ever since I spotted the first crocus peeking out from under the heavy mat of last fall’s leaves, I’ve been chronicling the season’s progress with photos on Instagram.
So far, I’ve captured the cheerful yellow of a daffodil, the tranquil white blooms of the leatherleaf viburnum, the sophisticated shape of the Siberian iris and the delicate columbine flowers that remind me of fairies’ wings, to name a few.
I do much more than take pictures in my flowerbeds, of course. There’s weeding and pruning, transplanting and mulching, pinching and (always) more weeding. Along with all that, there’s also been a bit of learning going on.
The lessons pertain to my gardening efforts, but some also apply elsewhere. I won’t delve into the life applications here, but as you read this, maybe you’ll find a few of your own (even if your thumbs are as brown as dirt).
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
♦ How much I’ve actually done in six years. When we bought our house, it was surrounded on all sides by sadly neglected and mostly overgrown flowerbeds. Although this was one of the features that drew me to our home in the first place, it was a lot to take on.
Our yard is still very much a work in progress, but over time, it’s been fun to watch various patches take shape. I’ve even given some of them names. There’s the woodland garden, the peninsula garden, the side garden and—my latest expansion effort—the hosta garden. These little areas might not be as picturesque as their titles suggest, but they’re getting there.
♦ How the colors and shapes in my garden are best enjoyed without the help of a lens. Granted, an iPhone 4 and a digital camera that’s at least eight years old aren’t the best photography equipment. But when I’m looking at my flowers for the sole purpose of looking at them, it doesn’t matter if the wind is blowing the leaves or whether my outdated phone camera can handle the sunlight.
♦ How so many of the plants in my garden remind me of people I love. I think of my daughter Lilly when I catch the scent of the lilies. I watch the giant alliums get taller and taller each day and think of Randy, who waited patiently for six years for me to get around to planting these whimsical bulbs.
When I pass by the “Miss Molly” butterfly bush, I remember how my girl Molly and I purchased this shrub for the sole purpose of giving her a garden namesake. And the magenta peonies remind me of my dad, who dug up root clumps from his peony patch every time I moved to a new house so I could have a reminder of my childhood home in my flowerbeds.
♦ How my yard is like my own personal history book. Where other people see leaves and flowers, I see pieces of my life story. I carried a bouquet of Stargazer lilies when I was the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding, for example. And I bought my first lamb’s ears plants when we were waiting to adopt Lilly.
I rescued them from a clearance rack at Home Depot for something like 90 percent off the original price. They should have been free, they were so dried out. But I had the idea that my daughter would like the feel of the soft leaves, so I bought them and nursed them back to life in my front yard. (She did, by the way, and still does.)
♦ How plants stretch to get what they need. Maybe they can’t talk, but plants aren’t shy about letting us know what they’re lacking. When you see one craning its neck toward the sunlight, for instance, that’s a sure sign it needs more light. Which leads right into my next lesson …
♦ How it sometimes takes multiple moves to find the best spot for something. I never plant anything without half expecting that, at some point in the future, I’ll be moving it. I used to be timid about this, but not anymore. For me, gardening is like a giant experiment, and nothing beats finally finding that perfect spot where one of my plants can truly thrive.
♦ How much I miss when I’m not paying attention, and how much I see when I am. There’s so much to observe, if only I take the time to look. The brilliant colors, the order in which different perennials bloom, the length of the bloom time for each variety, how large the plants are this year compared to last season, which ones are doing well and which ones seem to be struggling—the list goes on and on.
I admit—I often feel sad when I see the last of the peony blooms drying up or I notice that the bleeding heart is starting to die back. But then I notice some weeds nearby that need to be pulled, and the sadness is replaced by the need to do the next thing.
Come to think of it, that actually might be what I love most about gardening. No matter the season, there is always a next thing.It sometimes takes multiple moves to find the best spot for something. Click To Tweet