We’re approaching late summer now and many plants are just coming into their prime – teetering on the edge of glory! Then, on the flip-side, there are plants which have already experienced their ‘shining moment in the sun’ but sadly, are looking just a wee bit tired now.
Let’s face it – you may be feeling a little tired too 💤
The endless garden chores that come from maintaining daily growth on our little piece of paradise can be very therapeutic at times – YES! – and often quite inspiring – ABSOLUTELY!…but some days, we must confess – it can be totally exhausting. 😕
Gardening is a marathon not a sprint – so we need to pace ourselves – stop bemoaning what we’re not getting around to doing and shift our focus a little to the left…or a little to the right, whichever works…to recognize and acknowledge the sublime PERFECTION that lies within the ‘seeming‘ imperfection of life in our gardens.
We can take the time to breathe deeply….put down our trowel and step away from the weed…nature will wait for us while we do.
You are not going to get it all done at once, let’s just admit that up front. Unless of course, you hire a landscape company to install a completed garden on your property – AND – they maintain it in perpetuity on your behalf. However, that wouldn’t make one a gardener, so let’s just say that scenario falls outside the scope of this little blog. God knows, digging in the dirt isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
We gardeners, on the other hand, make our plans and start our tasks with some form of long-term picture in our minds. Maybe we dream of planting a traditional potager, a lush Austenesque English garden or who knows, maybe even a grand vision of Versailles for our own backyard.
Whatever it may be – we have two hands, perhaps family and friends that will pitch in to help, 24 hours in a day…and nothing but time to accomplish our dreams. Gardening has always been an exercise in patience, and if you have none, you’ll probably be the world’s most frustrated gardener…or at least, someone on a journey of learning to become more patient through the sheer force of nature – because patience is truly one of Mother Natures finest lessons.
PERFECTION in the IMPERFECTION? What exactly does that mean?
two examples to share from my own garden…
In the springtime I started a new flower bed. ‘Started‘ being the operative word. It’s on the north side of the vegetable garden. I took the below photograph of it literally ten minutes ago.
My goal was to have a flowerbed for the bees and more specifically, for the Monarch butterfly – aka lots of Milkweed!
So, in early June I created a flowerbed from the Lilac hedge and existing clump of purple coneflowers down to the greenhouse along the northern outside edge of the vegetable garden. Ray fired up the tractor and removed the sod and dug down two feet carefully between the two pear trees and up to the greenhouse…the rest I dug by hand to minimize damage to the tree roots.
Then we filled it up with fresh organic soil which we happened to have a tiny mountain of at the front of our property.
I had to dig up and transplant 11 Shasta daisy plants that were waiting for a ‘home’ in a makeshift nursery in the vegetable garden. They were in the nursery bed since last fall after removing them from one of the foundation beds at the front of the house. (the two overgrown foundation beds are also in a state of ‘TO BE RE-DONE AT SOME POINT’)
So, in went the daisies to the new bed…AWESOME! Also planted in early spring next to the daisies were 9 new Milkweed plants. Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ were transplanted right next to the greenhouse, rescued from one of those foundation beds in need of an overhaul.
I began digging up, removing quack grass and transplanting some of the overgrown purple coneflowers, but got too busy with the veggie garden so work on the new bed – STOPPED – until yesterday.
It niggled at me throughout the summer…I watched the weeds and grass grow around the Milkweed…spent and browned flowers from the Shasta’s lay in a tangled mess and I couldn’t even see the coneflowers I carefully transplanted in the springtime.
But you know what?! It’s OKAY!
I discovered the PERFECTION hidden beneath the IMPERFECTION yesterday as I finally got back to weeding and cleaning up that new flowerbed.
Every one of those new Milkweed plants that had bloomed earlier and flowers were left to brown and go to seed before I could deadhead them to keep the energy going back into the plant…dropped seeds that germinated and grew.
Carefully I weeded and kept all the little Milkweed seedlings I discovered – I was absolutely THRILLED!
Thrilled, because my long-term goal was a bed filled with Milkweed for the butterflies…if I had gone in there and weeded it to perfection the way I wanted to…I would have missed the lovely gift of all these new Milkweed plants. Benign neglect rewarded? Well, in this case, nature provided the very thing I was looking for…I only uncovered it.
The point is – take care of the most pressing needs as they arise, and don’t beat yourself up over what you are NOT accomplishing – that ‘other’ task…that chore you’ve been wanting to get to and feeling guilty about – it will still be there. All in good time, and remember, nature has a way of taking care of herself and providing happy surprises that you could never have planned for…if we just get out of the way.
This beautiful caterpillar (and 8 others at last count) is my second example of finding the PERFECTION in the IMPERFECTION.
In my earlier ‘A Gardener’s Vacation‘ and ‘How’s it Growing?’ posts I shared pictures with you of the fennel bulbs I planted in our vegetable garden. I have never grown these before…and they were/are lovely!
FUN FACT: We had some seriously hot days – and they bolted! (if ground temperature goes above a certain temperature it flips a switch in the plant to flower rapidly and set seed – its a survival mechanism in a plant)
I must have blinked, or went for too long a walk with the dogs one day…but it happened.
Bottom line – NO FENNEL BULBS to eat 👎🏼
RE-FRAME: Fennel seeds are an excellent harvest!
Despite my initial disappointment, knowing we could harvest lovely fennel seeds – I chilled out about it. There are a lot more important things going on in our lives and world – in the big scheme of things…truly, this is NOT a big deal.
But here’s the PERFECTION I could not have forseen…the reason I’m telling you to be kind to yourself and give yourself a break if you don’t ‘get to it all‘…there is a gift in everything that appears to be a derailment in our lives. Whether that ‘gift‘ is a lesson learned, an even ‘better than‘ outcome then you could have imagined…or a path that opens up which would never have been available if life hadn’t thrown you off course.
“POLYANNA!!” the crowd cries out…
Yes, yes…I hear you, let’s just say it works for me seeing life in this way, otherwise I would have poked my eyes out years ago for no good reason.
Back to the magnificent swallowtail caterpillar story…(the swallowtail being ‘magnificent’ that is…not necessarily my story)
Yesterday I was standing with my coffee in hand just looking at the garden…admiring the beauty, the changes..assessing the priorities on what needed to be done that day.
When I saw some weird patterns in the fennel plants…”What the heck is that?!”
Closer inspection – some massive caterpillars just hanging out all over the fennel plant.
Quick picture with the iPhone…shoot it off to my Instagram friends with the question “What kind of caterpillar is this?”
The entomologists chimed in…Eastern Black Swallowtail!! Oh, and by the way – they LOVE fennel and dill plants 👍🏼
Guess what I’m planting in my new butterfly flower bed next year!! LOL
Moral of the story: My intention was to create a habitat that invited beautiful and struggling butterflies into my garden. A lesser intention was to enjoy eating fennel bulbs…the greater intention won out.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE – if there is any takeaway for you from this post, let it be that you do the very things that LIGHT YOU UP…that you are passionate about, and enjoy doing…as opposed to punishing yourself over unrealistic to-do lists which leave you feeling inadequate or worse – overwhelmed.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Howard Thurman
Over to you now! If you have your own stories of finding hidden magic in your own garden – I’d love to hear about it and others would as well – please share your garden maintenance tips in the comments.
Garden lovers welcome💚
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