Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What A Garden Teaches Us

I've been gardening a lot lately...in the rain, in the sun (very occasionally), in the cold, in the wind. We gardeners are a devoted lot.

In the photo above is a very beautiful Japanese tree peony in our front yard. Tree peonies' petals are slightly more papery than their herbaceous relatives. This particular peony has dealt graciously with me moving it at least twice during its life.

For as much as I've done in my garden so far this year (lugging bags of dirt, buying and transporting flats of annuals to their appointed place, enriching the earth, dividing perennials, trimming shrubs, planting pots, digging out weeds...), there is still much to be done.
Some beautiful 'Candy Kisses' tulips in front of some finished pots, a table full of annuals still to be planted and bags of earth and compost still to be spread in the vegetable garden.
I have often said that I prefer gardening to housework. Housework achieves five minutes (perhaps) of neatness and cleanliness only to immediately spiral back into disorder and dirt. Physical effort in the garden however, although it never ever quite achieves perfection, contributes to long lasting beauty. Yes, the weeds will come back and things will need to be tended but a garden responds to your care. You can see an immediate and a lasting response.

While in the garden, I have thinking time. It's interesting how when you are physically active, your brain has the freedom to wander. I think gardens teach us many things. I was exchanging emails with someone recently who was going through a difficult period and I wrote:

"A garden can be a perfect metaphor for our lives. We figure out the conditions, try to improve them if possible and then deal with them and try to create something beautiful."

I think that is one of the most valuable lessons from our gardens--that we are not in complete control.

A garden teaches patience. When we moved into our house, it was a new subdivision. Our lot didn't have even one tree. It was basically a pile of dirt the first year that we lived here. I hated it but starting a garden didn't make sense with a new baby. It was the second year that we lived here that I created the garden design. There are flower beds wrapping the house and the entire outside perimeter of our lot. They are everywhere. On a day when I was feeling more than a little tired recently, I complained to a friend that the garden (that I designed) is 'too damn big'. She responded '...and you love it'.
The back flower bed in our garden freshly weeded and trimmed.
We have been in this house for almost 15 years. We moved here a month before Chloé was born. She will be 14 in July. Even more immediate, Emma will be 18 on Saturday. And my husband and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary yesterday. How time passes. When I have toured the garden the past few weeks, I can't quite believe the growth of the trees and shrubs. From our flat, bare lot, we now have leafy, natural canopies over sitting areas where there was nothing before. We have privacy from neighbours where intimacy was previously just a wish. I have put my heart and soul into this garden and I have been rewarded. This living, beautiful thing that surrounds us has changed and matured, just as we have.



18 comments:

  1. How lovely to read how your garden has grown & changed, along with your family & many happy memories. When I listen to someone talking about their garden with such passion it fills me with joy as well.
    Looking forward to seeing it in full bloom.

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    1. Thank you, Barbara. It is an absolute passion of mine and it is so nice to be able to share it with like-minded people here.

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  2. Your post is beautiful, Kathleen. I love what you've done with the place.

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    1. Thanks so much, CrimsonLeaves. It's come a long way. :)

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  3. Aw, Kathleen, what a touching, heartfelt post, I loved it. It is very clear that gardening is a true passion of yours. I had a garden once in my adulthood life (I lived in a house with a garden when I was a little girl/teen), but my babies were small (a little over 2 & a newborn), and except sowing Nigella damascena & a mix of Ipomoea, I didn't do much at all. Now I wish I had a garden of a reasonable size, with some easy veggies & greens, some flowers, and some dyeing plants. OK then it would be a large garden ! LOL
    Your garden(ing) is part of your family history. You can be proud of it !
    xoxo

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    1. Do you know, Sonia, I didn't have a garden until I was in my thirties! I lived in an apartment in my twenties with a few pots and window boxes on the balcony. This is now my third garden and the one I've had the longest. I dreamed of having a garden long before I had one. Maybe you will have your beautiful, big garden some day too. :) xo

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  4. A beautiful garden and beautiful thoughts. You've made me ready to get out into my own garden (I've been out of the country for over 2 weeks) and pull it into shape. Seeing the mess it's in shows how much time and attention go into making something natural beautiful even more lovely.

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    1. Thank you for visiting! I wish you happy hours in your garden as you tame it. :)

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  5. Gardens are such lovely places, whether big or small, they have the capacity to heal the soul. I'm not a great gardener, but my love for it comes from my father. I loved being in his greenhouse, i would love one of those, a sanctuary, maybe one day? They are so rewarding too, the effort you put in is nothing compared to what turns out. Your thoughts are lovely as always, hope you get lots of enjoyment in some warm sunshine soon. :)

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    1. My grandfather (my mom's dad) and my father were my gardening influences when I was young although I wish I had paid more attention at the time! :) As I said to Sonia above, I didn't have my own garden until I was in my thirties. A greenhouse sounds wonderful...a sanctuary indeed!

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  6. What a lovely garden you have!

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  7. I love this post - and I wish I could be better at gardening in my own garden, it´s terrible boring at this point.

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    1. Thanks, Tina. Don't give up. It takes time. :)

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  8. Kathleen - gardening does teach us so much...great post. I loved seeing all your hard work and how beautiful everything looks. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. I love what gardens give us.

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  9. Replies
    1. From one gardener to another. :)

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Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog and to leave me a comment. I love reading them. -- Kathleen

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