My birthday has come & gone, and my presents are still arriving. We’ve planted the 19 lavender plants, the 2 roses (gorgeous cherry red singles). A border of nectar plants: milkweed, agastache, coreopsis. A hummingbird bush (clethra alnifolia). Green giants (7 to be precise). And four trees! Sweet bay magnolia and Japanese maples, 2 of each! Houston, we (almost!) have a garden.
And that’s a way to live forever.
Seriously: gardens — especially those that provide habitat & food for birds, bees, butterflies, et al — are long-term investments. Ironically, they also pay off in the immediate present. Sons come for lunch, to help you pick up the trees in their truck. They come back on the weekend to help plant. My beloved has shown enormous patience as I say What about this? Do you like this rose or that one? Not to mention just drooling over the local nursery and various websites, or the (numerous!) trips to our favorite nursery.
Gardening — like writing — seems to me such a Buddhist endeavour. It requires you to be both optimistic and objective, such a difficult juggling act. On the one hand? I need to assess my soil, my sun & shade ratios, the new zone we live in. Those are all objectively verifiable, and need to be considered accurately. On the other? I’m dreaming of 30-foot trees from 6-foot saplings, of 4×4 roses from small 4″x4″ pots. And imagining, this chilly rainy day, the hum of native bees — hopefully a fat bombus terrestris, the aerodynamically improbable bumble bee. How Buddhist is that?
I just wish I was half as good a Buddhist as I am a gardener! I fully expect 90% of our new trees, perennials, & herbs to survive. My good intentions? Hmmm… That’s a lot more difficult!
This is what my plant shelves on the deck looked like earlier this summer. I’m not posting what the shelves look like now, because they’re mostly empty. It’s the time of year when plants come inside. And, since we’re moving across country this winter, I also gave several away to my sister. The orchids found good homes but I’ll miss them…, as did several succulents. Including a jade tree at least 15 years old. Sigh…
But it meant today, a day that began with a sad email from a dear friend, who said she just couldn’t be on my FB anymore because of folks asking her to move on past the election. Like me, she’s still mourning. And she isn’t ready to hear ‘play nice,’ or ‘suck it up & get back to fighting for social justice.’ We’re still angry here (which I think is stage 3…?)
Anyway, it wasn’t a great morning. Until my sister who’s in town from Dallas called, & asked us to join her, and my youngest sister (as well as her son) to get together for… Thai food! And from there the day brightened considerably. Because she came back by the house, I was able to load her up w/ great (at least I think they’re great) plants: the orchids & jade plants, a lantana in orange/pink&yellow, great succulent fixings for a couple of the mixed succulent saucers we love, and others. All going to good homes! The orchids — which are a bit particular — went in their pots. The others I nudged from theirs, & sent over naked (well, in grocery bags!). I’ll need those clay pots at the new house!
It was the best of therapy. After my sister left, I brought in what won’t weather the upcoming cooler nights (mostly the remaining succulents), and worked on the inside plants. Then I tidied up the debris on the deck.
Something there is in me that responds happily to dirt. To get my hands into dirt. To rinse out pots, & scrub them clean for next season. To sweep off the deck in preparation for tomorrow’s morning sun (usually taken on the deck, w/ a big cappuccino!).
And I’m so very grateful for all of it. I am my old ladies’ kiddo: from Grandmother’s African violets to Grandma’s roses to Aunt Bonnie’s broom, rake, & shovel, I’m sprouted from those green hands. Like my mother & mother-in-law before me, the garden is my place to absolutely forget what’s bothering me. The birds come visit happily, & we all bask in the late afternoon sun. It’s a huge gift, and today it dominates my gratitude list.