What a journey I’ve had, reclaiming the flower beds along the south side of the house. Five years ago, they were beautiful. However, the tornado, drought and neglect have wreaked havoc on the careful work that Dayan and I originally did in 2010.
When I moved back into the house, I focused on the backyard garden, transforming it into my own private paradise. At last, this year, I turned my attention to the front and side gardens. It’s been hard work! I’ve sweated and over heated, cut my fingers and arms on broken glass left over from the storm, tangled with out of control rose bushes, dug and chopped and pulled weeds, and fought with roots and the weed barrier cloth that I put down five years ago.
I considered giving up and allowing grass to permanently overtake the beds. I was inspired to continue because I bought the new plants ahead of time, knowing I might need such inspiration! And, the deep joy that I experience as I lovingly tuck plants into the ground called to me with promises of fulfillment and satisfaction. I persevered, moving foot by foot, section by section.
Tonight, I’m proclaiming victory! The toughest section, the one that challenged me the most, was finally cleared and turned with a spade, and at last, plants went into the ground. Yellow, red and orange Blanket Flowers, rosy Indian Feather, rusty Stonecrop, Carpathian Harebells and brightly colored Fireworks Fountain Grass now fill the bed. I left a pink Honeysuckle vine, Spiderwort, and a Sedum Purpureum plant that survived, as reminders of the resilience of Life.
As I turned the ground, I thought about a great conversation that Greg and I had today, around the blog entry that I posted two days ago. I wrote about transforming through phases of life, each phase birthing the next. Greg and I discussed that concept at length, and looked at our individual journeys as we’ve grown. There’s no going back on this journey, no returning to who we once were, any more than a butterfly can return to being a caterpillar.
We learn, though, from every aspect of the journey, every joy, every challenge. Greg said something that I like so much, I wrote it down. He said, “Experiences inform us, rather than define us.” How profound, and how true. I don’t have to beat myself up over past mistakes or cling to old memories, rosy as they may be. I learn, I am informed, and I journey on.
I brought that truth to my present task, as I dug holes for the plants. I didn’t need to berate myself for the condition of this flower bed. Instead, I looked at all that I have learned through this experience: Don’t use barrier cloth…use deep mulch instead to control weeds. Don’t plant pervasive plants, such as ivy and liriope, as they are very difficult to control or remove. I have learned what plants work well for my area, my yard. And, I learned that persistence and hard work brings order out of chaos. I am not defined by my mistakes. Rather, I have been informed by my past actions. As a result, a better gardener has been birthed!
I know this bed will always require diligence and a watchful eye, or it will tend toward wildness. I willingly accept that and I know I am up to the challenge. I still have mulch to spread and two more sections to plant, but with great joy I surveyed my work, as darkness gathered. I was a hot mess. But this bed lay before me, cleared of its tangled overgrowth, flowers serenely in the ground. I smiled triumphantly, through sweat, dirt and bug spray. Oh, how sweet this victory.