It’s that time of year here in the northwest when the flowers and trees are going crazy at a pace matched only by the allergy sufferer’s running eyes and noses. All the stores have their spring flowers out and the remaining hanging baskets from the Mother’s Day bonanza fill the shops. It is a torrent of color and wonderful smells. It pleases me. This time of year always fills me with hopefulness and that great possibility of the what if.
Yes, I love gardening.
Or, to be more honest, I love creating a garden.
There is something calming to my way of thinking when you take a piece of land in wild disarray and turn it into something of beauty. Perhaps you’ve tilled it into a vegetable garden, or sown wildflowers via seed bombs. Or perhaps you’ve weeded a flower bed of the plants choking out the flowers. No matter what, you have created something you find beautiful.
When I bought my first house, I spent many hours one summer turning the square lawn into a space with gently curving flower beds filled with perennials planted with height, color, and bloom times all taken into account and mapped out. (Jenny, if you are reading this, sorry I ignored you while I was toiling away in my garden beds. I suck.) It was hard work under that Minnesotan sun to turn a thirty-year old lawn into sculpted flower beds, but the potential for color and texture and scents was worth it.
Years laters we sold that house and I presented my accurate and to-scale maps of the front and back yards to the new owner who’s eyes glazed over. Finally I stopped yammering on about how the lilies would bloom at the precise time to best complement the bush in the opposite corner and simply asked her to water them.
Thousands of hours of labor and dollars in bulbs and plants, left in the hands of the uninitiated and uninterested.
Now I’m in my third home and I’m back to standing, hand on shovel and pondering xeriscapes. But now my interests lie more in the direction of creating order. Lasting order.
Because now as much as I still want color and texture and scents, and butterflies and hummingbirds, I don’t have the luxury of the time it takes to maintain that kind of garden. So all the bulbs I carefully moved from one area of my yard to another and which grow badly in their new spot…all getting ripped out and given away. In their place, hard to kill and requiring very little attention hostas.
I was collecting newspapers in preparation for this huge project and got thinking about my current love-hate relationship with gardening. As much as I love the act of gardening, the act of creating beauty, I hate maintaining that beautiful garden. My gardens, flower and vegetable alike, serve as reminders of my life: excitement and enthusiasm worn down by the daily drudgery of it all.
I simply cannot maintain things in a way I want. And by things, I mean not just the gardens around my house but the things within my house. In fact, I mean the things even in my own head.
There is so much potential for beauty and bounty within me, but it’s all in danger of being choked out by the weeds that exist within me as well.
So what’s this girl to do? Do I rip it all out and plant only hostas? Or do I embrace the weeds as hardy perennials and mourn the deaths of my more high-maintenance but beautiful plants? I’ve already stopped performing stand-up to focus on writing, but is writing any more hardy than comedy? Do I shrug my shoulders and put all those creative outlets aside until I’m no longer the parent to three young children? The garden in my mind needs a balance between bloom times!
For now, I’m hoping some hard work, back bent beneath the hot northwestern sun, will cultivate not just more tidy gardens but to-scale maps for a long term plan.
For I am a garden, inside and out, begging for tending. I am filled with hopefulness and the possibility of what if. I am a newly bloomed rose bud that will unfurl and then fade away but be breathtaking at least for a day.