Monday, November 21, 2016

Gardening as metaphor

Laser eye surgery last week put a real crimp in my reading schedule. As it happened, the book I was reading at the time was not exactly scintillating so I didn't feel the loss as much as I might have. 

I did resent the fact that I wasn't able to work in the garden for a couple of days, because before I was interrupted I had been on a roll, completing some of my fall chores such as weeding, adding compost to beds, cutting back perennials, moving plants, adding new plants, and doing general clean-up. 

Even on the days when I wasn't able to actually work though, I spent a lot of time in the garden, mostly contemplating life and the garden and changes that I wanted to make in both, and being aided in my meditations by my two eager garden helpers, Oliver and Perkins (aka Purrkins).  


Oliver

Perkins

They are six-month-old novices but eager to learn and especially good at helping me dig holes and at chasing fallen leaves.

Once I was able to get back in the swing of gardening, I had a lot of herb plants on hand that I had ordered from Grower's Exchange and bulbs from Southern Bulb Company, a company that specializes in bulbs that will actually grow in our area. So, I got busy planting.

Now, planting bulbs, in particular, is an act of faith for me.  My record with the finicky tubers is spotty to say the least. Often, I've lovingly placed bulbs in their planting holes and they've never been heard from again. Sometimes they'll show up and bloom for the first year, but then, after that, I only get foliage, and sometimes I only ever get foliage. But gardeners are by nature eternal optimists so I keep making the attempt.

This time around I've tried to be careful to only choose bulbs that I have at least had some success with in the past; bulbs like Narcissus tarzetta 'Grand Primo' and Leucojum aestivum 'Snowflakes.' These both bloom in the spring. 

I've also added red and yellow spider lilies to the mix. It'll be almost a year before I know whether those plantings were successful, because they don't bloom until the fall.

Now all I can do is wait and hope. Each bulb is tucked into its little planting hole along with a dollop of the food that it needs to grow. It will be a few months or even a year before I see any results from all my labor.

That is the essence of hope, isn't it? We plant seeds - or bulbs - and try to nourish and encourage them, but often we see no results at first, and that's when it is easy to become discouraged or even to despair. At some point, when we've done everything we can, we just have to have patience and faith that what we've done will take root and grow and some day flower or bear fruit.

There is that famous saying by the much-quoted Anonymous in regard to gardeners: "Who plants a seed beneath the sod, and waits to see, believes in God." Or, if not God, then at least Nature. But perhaps it is the same thing.

All of my sitting and contemplating over the last several days has persuaded me that there is hope for my garden and that gardening really is a metaphor for life.

11 comments:

  1. No doubt there is hope for a garden and for life in general. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. And Oliver and Perkins are adorable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Hope springs eternal" and "Where there's life, there's hope," and other assorted platitudes. My garden assistants thank you for the compliment.

      Delete
  3. Oliver and Perkins are adorable! A garden helper or two always makes gardening even more enjoyable. Good luck with your bulbs; I hope they all do well for you next spring. I agree about gardening being an act of faith and hope. Although bulbs do well in my zone 5 garden, there are always obstacles like too much rain or bulb-loving squirrels. Let's hope spring brings more color to the garden and some sanity to our world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sanity would be a very good and welcome thing. We can only hope.

      Delete
  4. I sympathize with you over the vision problems, Dorothy. I just my 6th Avastin eye injection. That keeps me out of the garden for 3 days. But the bad blood vessel in my eye is in check and I can do intervals of 7 weeks now, which will continue to lengthen then cease.;-) But at least I am doing well mulching beds with leaves this year so I will have an easier time with spring planting hopefully without all the weeds that were there last year when I couldn't do the work to spread leaves in the fall because of my knees. After taking Celadrin my knees are much better and pain free so I can do more gardening work again. I wish you success with your bulbs. One that increases like gangbusters for me is Crocosmia, 'Lucifer' gets quite tall and is spectacular but falls over sometimes. 'Montbretia' is much shorter and will make a lovely border. Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I can sympathize with you about the Avastin. My husband has those injections. Since I have knee problems also, I'll have to look into the Celadrin.

      I have the 'Lucifer' crocosmia also and it is spectacularly successful! Thank goodness for a few things that I can grow without problems.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

      Delete
  5. You're so lucky to have such doting assistants! I'm sure they are big helps :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are big fat helps! I could hardly garden without them.

      Delete
  6. My parents taught me this metaphor. It has served me well. Thanks for your beautiful words!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So did mine. They were avid gardeners, and though they wouldn't have used these words, their actions spoke loudly enough.

      Delete