A simple bouquet of flowers, incites limitless emotions. The recipient and giver of such a gift are instantly altered in mind and spirit. Whether it is a gesture of love, appeasement or sympathy, flowers say it with their sheer beauty. A garden of flowers has the same effect on the soul. The gardener unknowingly gives a gift to others and by displaying his hobby for all to see, arouses an emotional response in others.
Gardening, for me is more than a hobby, more than leisurely pleasures in Spring time; more than flowers and earth. A garden is like an expression of one’s self. It is an encompassing array of emotions. It provokes happiness and heart-ache. It is a place for thought, reflection, and solace. Memories are remembered and played out as one toils in the sweetness of nature, planting colors, shapes and textures.
The gardener battles for perfection, knowing full well that it is not achievable. We settle for what is given us. It is nature; mother earth that has the final say. We are only the stewards of the soil. I strive instead for harmony ... a balance in the plants’ life as well as my own.
I have been gardening professionally for a dozen years or so and all of the gardens I have worked in have stories … memories. I hear the histories of plants and people. The beginning and end of lives for both. I have had customers waiting at their doors in the morning for my arrival, so they can walk their grounds with me, a chance to talk about flowers, people and dreams. About the hand-me-down peony bush, a cutting from Gramma’s garden, a treasured trowel. All have meaning and all add credence to their garden… their life. The people I have worked for are as different in their choices of plants as they are with their views of life. Some are straight forward, others are pure romantics. But all have one thing in common. It is the sweet emotion of happiness that a garden can evoke. Many of my customers are unable to work their own gardens, whether it is a lack of time, energy or both. It is that happiness the garden gives them, that makes them maintain its beauty.
I am their steward of the soil. I do it for love and for my own inner peace. My mind is elsewhere while I go through the motions of planning and planting. Gardening for me is meditation ... a time for reflection. I draw my sustenance from my customers’ gratitude; on a job well done, an act of artistry on my part, pride or gardener’s ego. You see, gardening for me is spiritual. The cycle of life … death and rebirth.
I bear the scars of my profession, both physically and spiritually. These blemishes, remind me of my acts of carelessness. Whether it is stitches on a finger or a hole through my sneaker from a misguided garden-fork tine. All show the marks of history ... “life’s stories.”
It was in the garden that I learned of my wife’s illness. It was a sad and devastating time of spring. We used the garden as a backdrop for our sorrow. Engaging in long talks and discussions of life while viewing the awesome beauty that only a garden can provide. The soothing atmosphere somehow softened the pain, creating a gentle blanket of hope. I now walk alone, along those flowered paths and remember the sweeter times of days gone by. The garden gives me the same peaceful feelings of love and tranquility that I have always felt, whether working the soil or quietly at rest gazing at my accomplishments.
Gardens are like the “stage sets” in a play. We use them for impromptu “get togethers”, reunions, weddings and social events. From BBQ’s to dinner parties a garden is the setting for enjoyment. It is a venue of nature, playing out its acts ... birds foraging for seeds, butterflies splashing their colors as they go on from flower to flower, the sweet smells of summer. It provokes a stimulus of moods. Whether it is the business-like attitude of harvesting vegetables, the quiet reading bench nestled amongst the flowering shrubs or a casual stroll with friends along its borders; all are therapy for the soul.
A garden is an expression of your love.