I love gardens. When I travel to a new place and I discover there is a garden or a historical home with a garden I love to get out and explore. I wind my way through the pathways in awe of the beauty and appreciate the quiet. I sometimes stop and sit on a bench and absorb all the colors and greenery that surround me. I take photographs of flowers and plants I would like to see in my garden. I dream of how the elements of the garden I am visiting will fit into my garden. I dream and dream. The trouble is I love gardens but I am not a gardener.
Over the last few years our front garden has been neglected. I just don’t seem to have the time, energy or resources to get it straightened out. My garden is an exhibit of trial and error… mostly error. I am a firm believer in learning from my mistakes and in the gardening world I have made many mistakes. Planting Cosmos in a window box (too tall), over watering and under watering the tomatoes all in the same season (results in split tomatoes), planting Sunflowers in the shade (don’t ask!) are among the many gardening snafus I have experienced. A quality I have noticed in many of gardeners I know is their pure joy in being out in the dirt raking, trimming and planting. When I get out in the garden I just feel overwhelmed and out of my element.
So it was with great hope I once again dug out my gardening gloves, put on a hat and boots armed and ready to tackle the mess of weeds that is my front garden. In about three minutes I realized the wisdom of doing this heavy work early in spring as sweat immediately made its way down my face, neck and back. But, school and family demands kept me running through the spring so I just glanced at the garden as I drove in and out of my driveway several times a day through April, May and June.
My gardening work didn’t get started until today, July 1st. Trying to look on the bright side I thought letting the weeds grow longer would give me longer handles to pull them out with. Well, this is true but now they also have longer roots.
As I struggled and pulled and dug, I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere and thinking this gardening thing is just an exercise in frustration. My teenage son came out to check on me. I suggested we burn the whole thing down and being the wise boy that he is pointed out it is too close to the house. I think I made him nervous because he went into the garage grabbed some clippers and started trimming back some bushes.
I kept toiling away ready to quit but set a goal of clearing the weeds out to the window. Weed by weed I pulled and dug so the pile in the wheelbarrow grew. I finished the section I set out to with the hour and a half I had this morning.
This morning’s time in the garden reminded me of Anne Lamott’s book “Bird by Bird”, every little bit I accomplish got me closer to my goal of a garden that is presentable. Of course, I know it will need revision and reworking but I am getting closer. As I cleaned up my tools and admired the now empty space in my garden, I had a small sense of accomplishment. I started pondering what I might plant there. Maybe there is a little bit of gardener in me after all.