I didn’t grow up with my hands in the dirt. I never planted anything in any of the yards of any of the houses we called home over those years. It was Grandma, who lived with us, who set roses in the beds. Grandma on her knees in the same old paint-stained brown jeans she loved, with kneepads strapped on as age made bones tender. One year, I bought her a little green garden cushion for those knees, and that was the extent of my awareness of garden life.
As young marrieds in Indiana, in that first house of ours--the yellow 1917 bungalow on E. 10th Street—some nurturing instinct kicked in, and we covered the chain link fence in blue morning glories.
Transplanted to the east coast, I dug a flat circle in the center of the sunlight, between towering pines, sewed seeds for a cutting garden. We love trying to call up blueberries, tomatoes, rosemary from this Carolina clay.
So these past weeks, we’ve celebrated the Great Return, the re-emergence of things buried months ago. And I kneeled yesterday like Grandma did, thinning out and relocating perennial offspring to empty spaces elsewhere.
Sometimes I find myself standing there with dirty roots in hand, stalled by indecision…shade or sun? Drought tolerant? Deer-tolerant? How big will it get? If I put this here, I can’t put it there…will I regret it? Will it hate me for moving it?
(Not known for my decision-making skills.)
Eventually, I make the call and…hope for the best.
And my heart digs too, these days, at the bulbs of decisions made along the years. The garden we’ve been working at since we met…the merging of two from before. How exactly did we get to this particular place? Is this what we expected to come of us? I don’t remember why we made that choice. Do we love it? Does it matter?
It’s true that some plans were uprooted here and there. Some preferences changed along the way…certain climates turned out more or less pleasant than we’d thought they’d be.
One spring we blossomed blue instead of raspberry. Surprise! Five offshoots. Surprise!
Some seasons we prepare for shadows, then find ourselves in 8 hours of sunlight a day. In others that same sun beats down til our heads droop low.
Maybe you find yourself in the middle of a Home & Garden layout.
Or not. Maybe instead you are one of those tucked back under woody branches, and the prospect of rescue looks bleak.
Do you seem to always be on the outside of the “Editor’s Choice” circle? The one where all the "popular" flowers (zinnias!) are?
Maybe you said “yes” to something which meant a sad “no” to something else, and you felt loss...
My friend Karla has, as long as I’ve known her, has had her hands in the soil, adding to the beauty of earth with a little texture here, a bit of color there. I long hoped some of her magic would rub off on me.
One day, it did.
She said: I don’t worry about the arrangements too much. I don’t have any kind of master plan. I just dig a hole and throw in some dirt – if they don’t work, I move them later. Mostly trial and error.
Crazy how much that freed me. That bit of wisdom alleviated a great deal of pressure: just try something.
Why not try and see? It's okay.
But I am further comforted to know that GOD doesn’t operate that way. He knows in advance and He knows completely. The season of shadows will serve His glory and my good…which are permanently interwined.
The season of light also will serve His glory and my good…which are permanently intertwined.
And the elusive show gardens we stand outside? Merely flats of topsoil carved by human hands…a far cry from the multi-dimensional-ever-blooming land of primavera we (His children) are destined for, and to which we (His children) already belong.
The gardener knows the soil. He is a gardener on his knees, setting every rose in her right place.