Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gardening from Within

A friend and I had a long talk this year about weeds in our gardens—metaphoric weeds that bring complicated, emotional messes to what could otherwise be a productive, fruitful life. I seem to have taken a year’s frustration with my worst “weed” and have channeled that energy into the yard. The front of the house is tidy, clipped, and visually organized. Dead growth has been pruned to make room for new green. There are a few spots of color in annuals on the porch and at the edges of the house. While I have not done what I would really like to do, what I have right now is good—a modified plan, which is workable, looks nice, and has potential. If you were to drive by our home, you would think, “Someone cares.” And we do. We love it here very much. I feel my own roots settling into place here as I pull mint from the garden and check the plum tree for imminent fruit-bearing. I tug weeds from flower beds and remove vines from the shrubs. Making some of the changes was scary at first—just ask the holly bushes, who are now filling out again after a major cutting two weeks ago. I hope they speak encouragingly to the gardenias.

You know, you can’t always reason with a gardenia. It’s why I wield a saw.

Please forgive me, but this one beautiful gardenia which towered over the front porch has been cut into compliance and it now matches in height its partner—a supposed twin gardenia-- on the other side of the porch. This year’s snow seriously weakened all my bushes, and I am hoping a good trimming helps recoups a loss in strength. The aforementioned twin does not bloom as profusely nor does it do so at the same time. Now, they can sit together, the sorry mates they are, and grieve their new reduction in height together. What the bushes don’t know is that I need to be able to sit on my porch and see kids play in the yard, as well as not get mugged because some criminal has hidden behind a giant bush. In the meantime, I will ply the plants with fertilizer and prayers.

This summer, the backyard will see a coming to Jesus as well. My husband and I earmarked certain bushes and trees for trimming or removal. We fantasized about building a garage should we ever buy this place. I mused about the possibility of moving trumpet vine to the fence and my husband suggested tomatoes in the back of the yard. In the meantime, I have horribly abused a hedge by the deck. My secret hope is that I killed it and can replace it with a nicer looking bush, maybe even, more gardenias. If it grows back, the bush at least will be humbled and more containable. My husband looked at the poor stubs left sticking out of the ground and said, “Don’t ever let me get you angry.”

Yesterday, I extricated our power cable from a crazed, wandering series of grape vines and one smothered plum tree. It required a certain deliberate unbraiding, clipping, de-puzzling, and gentle pulling, all of which I had to do without coming so near the cable that I might slip off the ladder or worse, hit the cable with my metal clippers on the way down. When I was done, I felt relief that the task was accomplished, and I could see better what needed to be addressed in that area of the yard. I spent an hour doing in the yard what I had spent the last year of my life doing within a court of law for my children.

Now, I can see the fruits of my labors, the blossoms that will return next season, and the potential for growth.

Happy gardening, everyone, both in and out of your yards.

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