Sunday, June 16, 2013

How does your garden grow?

I don't know what most people think about when they're doing yard work. Whether it's just a chore to get through or whether it's a time to celebrate the wonder of nature and revel in the idea that if you put this thing there it will turn into something wonderful later.


Sometimes you don't do it right or you don't stick with it and your lovely green shoot shrivels up like a 12 day-old piece of lettuce and lays there mocking your delusion of gardening grandeur. Sometimes the squirrels eat your little shoot for lunch. Sometimes the grubs and weevils sneak in under cover of the soil to do your little plant in.

But when it works, it's glorious.

I was thinking about this the other day when I swung into the drive to notice the yellow flowers on the ground cover whose name escaped me shortly after I put it in. The purple and pink flox flowers my friends planted in honor of Alison and which I have supplemented have faded; the little white bells on the hostas that came with the house are gone; and the irises I transplanted from my mother's yard chose to sleep through this year's season . So it's  the yellow flowers' turn to shine.

My lilac bushes are struggling but hinting at good things to come. Just starting to pop out are the pink daisy-like flowers, the purple tiny flowers on the lamb's ears and the in-your-face orange day lilies. On deck are the black-eyed susans. Those flowers are a mix of transplants from back home and things I've picked up over the years.

They'll see us through summer and then the mums should make their presence known.

Fifteen years or so ago when Jeff and I moved into this house, there was a sweet gum tree in the front yard spilling nasty sticky balls all over the yard and hoarding the sun. What grass there was was laced with sticky balls and bare patches and weeds with more family members than the Kardashians.  The front walk was a series of flat cement squares mostly dug into the ground as if they knew they were too heavy to fly away and tunneling to China seemed like a good second choice.

Scraggly evergreen bushes and trees added a splash of green. The  oak and magnolia trees showed promise, but this was January and they were shivering, naked in the spotty snow. In a nutshell, it was not a jungle out there.

But after a few years of digging in the ground, releasing the sweet gum tree to a far better life as firewood and dramatically improving the drive and front walk, we now have a veritable rainbow of color from spring to fall. 

And for that I'm grateful. Yes, it was a lot of work. Some stuff withered along way either by my mishandling it or the vagaries of nature. My neighbors will assure you that there's still some work to do. But lots of stuff has worked. In part because I show it some attention from time to time. But mostly because given time, most things can find a way to survive, and sometimes thrive...

It's not unlike other living, growing things in my life. I battle depression and job-related stress just as I battle weeds, squirrels and grubs. Sometimes that keeps me from properly caring for the human people in my garden. Working in the yard helps me get back to center; to put things into better perspective.

The ephiphany I had in the driveway the other day was that my yard has come a long way over the years but it's doing OK. And if I can just remember how my flower garden grows, I can remember that my profession and my family will grow the same way.

I came within a hair's breadth of understanding something my father had down cold: patience and faith. I actually don't know if he really had it down, but he sure acted like he did. He handled the stresses of life -- and believe you me, he had much more trouble to worry about than I do -- with this calm kind of outlook and belief that if you plant good stuff and tend to it a bit, more good stuff will grow than will bad stuff.  You have to take a bit of loss, a set back here and there. You have to give it time.

But somehow, someway, you'll make it through and you'll have something beautiful to look at when you come home at the end of a rotten day. 

I'm not a Master Gardener (a title that actually exists) in any of my various fields. But I have some really pretty crops. And I'm going to focus on celebrating them instead of focusing on the weeds.

Hope your Fathers Day was as good as ours. Among Jeff's gifts were comic books and a subscription to, which will enable him to watch the Red Sox and any other game that's being played on a variety of devices.

We won't see him until October. 

Ali and I tried our hand at tiramisu again ( with better tools) and she is finishing up dinner prep now. 

Happy Fathers' Day!


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