If I was ever in a situation where I had to decide what to do with the last days, weeks or months of my life, I know exactly what I would do. I think there are lots of folks who have bucket lists with trips or things they have never tried, but want to (like visiting Jamaica, going skydiving, learning to paint with watercolors, writing their memoirs, etc.). Not me. I am so much simpler than that.
If I knew I only had a bit of time left I would want to spend it tinkering around in a garden full of flowers and birds over the lazy days of summer. Of course I would want my family and friends nearby as well, but that would be the way I would be content winding up my days.
There is something deep in my psyche that is drawn to serene flower-filled gardens. I dream about them (particularly during the winters in North Dakota). In my dreams I feel the peacefulness and contentment that comes with enjoying the garden.
The irony in life is that I have a brown thumb. I do love my flowers and if love was enough to get by – well then, I’d be a master gardener at the International Peace Gardens. Alas, flowers need some knowledge and skill to flourish. They need the right soil, the correct amount of water, and certain types of sun exposure.
Every year I try my hand at new flowers. This year I have bravely gone where I have never gone before - a new small and large flower garden plot. I know what you are likely thinking…the bigger the plot, the more plentiful the poor plant victims. That was my thought too. As someone who loves flowers, the thought of bringing them here to die is unbearable. But I made a promise to myself to realize the serenity that these flowers would bring and to keep trying until I successfully created the beauty I have dreamt about.
My small flower bed is close to my mailbox by the curb. It has been beat up a bit by the wind and the heat we have seen over the past few weeks (yes, I dared to plant quite early this year), but it is holding its own. It is mostly filled with inexpensive annuals that I expect will grow over the summer to cover the plot. Right now it looks a bit sparse, but I have faith…and as I said, love.
My bigger garden plot is the one that has been built on Mike’s back and my design. That plot required sod removal out of a plot that is approximately 10 x 28 feet. Then it had to be rototilled and peat moss and black dirt added…all that just to make it somewhat amenable to flowers. Then I needed a garden trellis and a little slate patio and path to complete the vision I had of what my flower garden would look like. All of that was before the flowers, shrubs and seeds. Wowsa, it has been a whole lotta’ work.
The planting is now almost complete. In a few weeks I expect the host of sunflowers I planted along the back line of the garden to start making their presence known. By midsummer, I expect it will be a veritable explosion of color and variation – from oriental poppies to hollyhocks to black-eyed susans to delphiniums to lilies to salvia to irises to pansies to a dozen other flowers – all framed by a variety of bright, happy sunflowers.
If the vision is realized as I see it in my mind’s eye, it will be a feast for the spirit and a triumph of the heart. And then you can know that no matter what ever happens to me that I will have found the sweet spot where my serenity lies. It may seem odd that one would find that in an area where watering and weeding are the order of the day, but it is the quiet places where nature is centric when I find myself most at peace. It is with the trees, plants, flowers and birds that I best understand the meaning, fragility, and strength of life - it is there that I am closest to God.
I know I am not alone in that feeling as Dorothy Frances Gurney said many moons ago in one of her best known poems, “Kiss of the sun for pardon. Song of the birds for mirth. You’re closer to God’s heart in the garden than any place else on earth.” Yes indeed Dorothy, you got that exactly right.
Day one thousand and fifty-five of the new forty – obla di obla da