A long-standing mystery for me has recently been solved. I understand why people love gardening. I get it now. I truly do. It’s so simple that I cannot believe I’ve missed it all this time, when the answers were growing around me all along. Gardening is its own reward.
This realization is one of many silver linings to come out of the pandemic experience. Like many of you, our household was impacted by COVID-19 when my husband, the Carpenter, faced a temporary lay-off. Never one to sit still, he set to work building garden boxes out of recycled wood. One day I pulled into the driveway to find stacks of boxes piled up. The next day, I came home to find them all painted with stain, affixed to the house, loaded with topsoil and ready for plants.
But his ultimate achievement was the large raised garden box with a trellis of recycled wire mesh from a job site, now home to climbing flowers and a colourful selection of perennials. When you factor in all the work he did to plant a garden in the heart of our yard last year, our backyard now feels like our private oasis.
That’s a good thing, because home is the only place I like to be these days. It includes my favourite things and my favourite people. It’s messy. It doesn’t judge me. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked through this pandemic, so I want to be home while those kept inside long to get out. Maybe it’s because my inner introvert finally took down my extrovert side. Home is my happy bubble.
Work recently took the Carpenter out of town, leaving me to take care of the gardens. This is a big responsibility. I am not even trusted with houseplants (rightly so), much less vegetables and flowers. I was positive the irises were going to rebel. The begonias had attitude. And those bright, smiling pansies were surely fragile. If I let the strawberries die, I would never be forgiven. So. Much. Pressure.
I did my best. On watering days, I woke up extra early and filled the water can, taking great care to ensure the gardens were quenched. I talked to the flowers that needed encouragement (“Keep growing. You’ve got this.”). I congratulated the lilies for their healthy stalks and colourful blooms (“Well done, you”). When the fuchsia roses opened, I spoke to them in a British accent. I have no idea why, but they loved it. And that green pepper is going to be massive. I fed his ego. I wish someone had told me about the sheer joy to be experienced by deadheading flowers. It’s like popping a pimple; less disgusting but equally satisfying.
I now understand why my husband loves his garden so. Flowers are better than people. They don’t have agendas. And flowers are never mean. Never. If you nurture a flower, water it and let it grow, it will make your life beautiful. Plant many and you’ll get an oasis.
Ready for a metaphor? A garden is like love. Plant a seed, nurture it and it will grow into something beautiful. But it’s okay if sometimes you have to deadhead relationships. Pluck the weeds that choke your roots. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from blooming. Flowers don’t. You shouldn’t either. I keep learning that lesson. And I get stronger every time. Blooming on.