I think that is why I see my life through my garden. My garden can be funny. And unpredictable. And glorious. And depressing. And a lot of work. And worth the work.
This summer, the garden was the best its ever been, mostly because I took the time to really enjoy it and see its value in maintaining my mental and physical well-being. We planted a few special plants, moved a few things around, added a few new surprises and delights. But for the most part, it was what it always has been. An overall lovely picture with imperfections that could be overlooked and even cherished because they contributed to the whole.
The hosta continued to rule among their more flowery and showy neighbors. Aging, good and solid, they never disappoint, and their delicate little light purple flowers are some of the last ones standing, even after the first frost. The barberry bushes stood up nicely against all that Mother Nature threw at them this year – a drenching May, a cold and wet June, a July heat wave, no rain for weeks and weeks and weeks through September. Now, they are bracing for the winter, still standing tall with their gorgeous red leaves and pricky branches. And that lovely old grapevine. I love it, even as it clings bare to the fence, with a few remnants of the orange leaves that graced it a few weeks ago.
As I quickly put the garden to bed a few weeks ago, I remembered how long it took last spring to plan it and buy it and plant it. Days, even weeks! In a few hours, it’s yanked up and tossed on a compost heap. How does that work? Why is it so hard to get things going, but so easy to dismantle? It astounds me every year.
But even as I marvel and wonder at the predictability of the garden war horses and the garden process, I am equally intriqued by the unpredictability of my haven, how the lilies can thrive one year and not even blossom the next. How the tomato plants can produce bounty one year and just one batch of salsa the next. How the catmint can invade every portion of real estate one year and forget to even pop its little head out of the dirt the next. Nature keeps you guessing.
And so do the humans that either visit your garden or have an impact on it. People change. They are good one year and not so good the next. The family dynamic ebbs and flows, and we’re just happy when half of our kids are in a good place on any given day. There are some people that don’t really fit in our life, just like there are flowers that don’t really bring a lot of joy to my garden. They don’t hurt anything, but something isn’t quite right and no matter how hard you tend and water and fertilize and try to make them fit, it doesn’t really work. And so, you let them go.
And then there is the human element outside of our lives, which can produce surprises and consternation with no exact person to blame. My friend, Lisa, planted cucumber seeds in spring only to find pumpkins in her garden in August. A fun surprise, yes, but she was planning to make pickles.
And this is why I say, life is funny. Just like the garden.