Gardening is such a great metaphor for life, I often have to restrain myself from talking like Chauncey Gardener from Being There (great movie and I suspect that most of you are old enough to know what I am talking about). When I am pondering a life dilemma for myself or trying to give sage advice to some troubled soul, I use the garden as an analogy. It is cyclical but always changing and evolving. It is a constant struggle between controlling and accepting as nature is just fickle and fantastic. It has seasons and flights of fancy, mutants and reliable stalwarts. There are seemingly logical steps to take to develop and shape a garden over the years, and then all of a sudden nature throws you a curve and BOOM you have to take a different fork in the road. A new pest can arrive, like the emerald ash borer, or a winter can take an unusual toll and burn all of the rhododendrons or you wonder why this year everything is blooming like God rained Miracle Gro. You just have to shrug and go with the flow, constantly making adjustments in either your garden or your mind to keep up.
Each garden is also unique and has its own personality, like people and pets, no matter how simple or grand it may be. I am always amazed at the unique ways people see their own garden and how others can see the same thing so differently. Unfortunately, I am one of those souls who tend to see the sores in my own garden when any person in their right mind would see a beautiful tidy Eden. I am getting better and have numerous moments where I appreciate the splendor. My wife used to say that we needed to write a joint blog called “The Pessimistic and Optimistic Gardeners.” I am always amazed when I meet someone with a garden that they think is just magnificent and it is full of weeds without a clean line to be seen. As long as it has some flowers they are thrilled. That is a great thing.
A person can become a connoisseur of something, gardens for instance, and your attuned eye takes the fun out of viewing the more mundane and less sophisticated. I hate to be that person when it comes to gardens, and I haven’t really. The thing I know about my own garden, and any other garden for that matter, is that if the garden looks and feels loved, it looks and feels beautiful. Sometimes when my garden is looking a little out of control and has me gnashing my teeth, if I go out and spend 15 minutes pulling some key weeds, cleaning up a part of the path or cutting back something encroaching on another, the garden looks loved and I see it entirely differently. Have you ever noticed how quickly an uncared-for garden goes to hell? I really believe that just having someone watch over and love it, even if they don’t spend hours weeding and manicuring, will keep a garden looking like a garden instead of a wild patch. So I suggest that you give your garden a little love now and then to reap the rewards in the seeing and feeling.~
Mel Bellar is the owner of Zone4 Landscapes and a passionate Andes gardener.