Notice the Flowers

Although it is midway through my garden’s growing season, there was one container I had not yet planted in. The black metal cauldron, that once belonged to Greg’s grandmother and came to me from his dad, was growing a healthy crop of weeds and an assortment of volunteer plants. I took time today to clear the cauldron and transfer in firework flowers that are popping up all over the garden. 

What started as a simple gardening task quickly transitioned into one of my ongoing conversations with the Divine. I love these spontaneous “chats”…and the rich lessons from the garden that teach me important truths about life. 

Notice the Flowers
I settled into a chair near the cauldron, enjoying the warm summer day as I pulled weeds and tidied up the container. In the past, I’ve grown yellow calendula in the big pot. This year those herbal flowers are thriving in a tall metal bucket. The neglected cauldron contained a tangle of weeds and grasses, and self starting basil and lemon balm plants. 

The weeds went into a plastic bucket and I transplanted the herbs, tucking them into the ground. I was ready to dig up volunteer firework flowers that self start from the seeds they drop in the fall. 

Notice the Flowers
Those prolific plants are appearing throughout the garden, in metal containers, flower beds, and even between bricks on the brickio. From my space of joy and openness, a conversation with the Divine began. Everyday is an ongoing conversation with the Divine. I receive love messages and lessons through signs and wonders, synchronicities and the unfolding of the journey. Sometimes, though, like today, I “hear” the words mixed in with my thoughts. 

Notice the flowers… was the thought that suddenly arose. Notice them. As I carefully dug up the wayward plants, I realized that most of them, although surviving where they were, lacked the space to do well. They were crowded and cramped, in less than ideal conditions. Their ability to grow fully and bloom was compromised. 

Ah. I saw the connection between the flowers struggling to grow and human life. Sometimes, although we are surviving, we aren’t fully being who we are meant to be. Our lives are hemmed in, crowded by things or people, cramped by limitations that may be a result of the environment we have chosen to plant ourselves in. 

Notice the Flowers
The plants reacted as I uprooted them from their current location and transplanted them into the cauldron. I understood. In life, upheaval is a form of uprooting. Losing someone or something important, changing jobs, ending a relationship, getting a scary diagnosis, all create the feeling of life falling apart. We tend to view these experiences as negative. 

However, from my role as the Gardener today, I saw a different perspective, a bigger picture. I didn’t intend harm for my plants. Quite the opposite. I was disrupting them so that they could grow and thrive. The plants drooped. They hung their blooms, even after I lovingly placed them into new spaces that allowed room to expand. They were totally unaware that I was there with them, tenderly caring for them and whispering encouragement to them. 

Notice the Flowers
Don’t we do the same, when life appears challenging? We can feel downcast, in spirit and countenance. The comfort of what we knew, of what we were used to, seems preferable to this new, expansive unfamiliar place we find ourselves in. 

And this is the thing. The flowers look a bit sad at the moment. They will likely lose their blooms. They may rest for a few days, conserving energy. But then, new growth will begin as I lavish extra care on them, watering them often and keeping weeds away that might choke them. They don’t know it right now, but they are about to expand and they will bloom again, and thrive, stronger and more resilient. 

I sat quietly, noticing the flowers and letting the thoughts rise from my heart. I recognized the truths I was receiving. The greatest growth in my life has occurred around times of upheaval, challenges and change. Those seasons were not pleasant…however, they were necessary for my growth. I was cared for as well, even if I wasn’t always aware of the Gardener in my life. All that I needed, to not only survive but to thrive and bloom, was provided with great tenderness and love. 

Notice the Flowers
Notice the FlowersGoogle image

Such profound lessons from the garden, life lessons. I felt deep gratitude and peace, sitting there in the garden with my thoughts. The Divine conversation was at an end. Or was it? 

At that moment, a large blue and black swallowtail butterfly flitted around the cauldron, its wings iridescent in the sunlight. It didn’t pause in its flight, but hovered near me for several seconds before lifting gracefully into the air and disappearing over the fence. 

Butterflies are significant to me, symbolizing belief, growth and transformation. I looked up characteristics specific to the swallowtail. They represent intuition, inspiration, higher consciousness, powerful beauty, strength and flashes of insight. 

The arrival of the swallowtail at that moment was certainly not a coincidence. With a flourish, and extravagant beauty, it signified the end of the conversation, one full of inspiration and flashes of insight, that began with an invitation.

Notice the flowers. I am glad I was listening. 

Notice the Flowers

Summer Colors

Summer is about to begin! In a strange twist, the season shifts late this evening, or very early in the morning, depending on the time zone. Here in Joplin, in the US, summer officially begins tonight at 11:24 pm. Yes…after the sun goes down. No matter! Summer is upon us. 

It is a bit confusing whether today’s Summer Solstice was the longest day, or if tomorrow will get that designation. Either way, I was grateful for the extra minutes of sunlight, after a busy day. I needed to water the garden. 

Summer Colors
I simply adore being in the garden as the sun is setting. The heat evaporates out of the air. The colors are vivid. It truly is the most beautiful time to appreciate the flowers and plants. 

I’ve neglected my garden a bit lately. This is a busy time of year for realtors. I definitely need to pluck out some weeds and plant a few more flowers. However, does my garden hold a grudge? No. It is a wild and gorgeous thing right now, with brilliant colors erupting in the beds and containers and borders. The flowers do what they are created to do. They bloom…joyfully it seems. 

Summer Colors
Summer Colors
Summer Colors
As I watered containers, and pulled weeds, I allowed the wildness of the garden to call to me. Something untamed in me rose to answer that call. I too am doing what I am created to do, growing, blooming, offering who I am in response to life, and light, and roots that have gone deep. 

Summer Colors
Summer Colors
Summer Colors
Before the sun disappeared completely, my garden and I welcomed summer. I accepted the peace and contentment that washed over me. I marveled at the riotous colors that didn’t compete but complemented each other. I opened my heart to all the promises of the season. I expressed deep gratitude. 

Jenny Uglow wrote, “We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.”

My garden nurtured me tonight, on the eve of summer. As dusk deepened, I gathered fresh mint from the herb garden for a celebratory cup of tea. I toast you, golden summer. Welcome. 

Summer Colors

Surrender 126: No Ego, Just Magic

This afternoon I had the opportunity to plant flowers for my mom. This was an activity planned for last Saturday, before I was diverted to the hospital where Mom was being admitted with double pneumonia. As I arranged plants in various containers, I enjoyed visiting with my sweet mother, who was released from the hospital last night. She’s tired and still coughing and oh so happy to be home. 

I had a few plants left over, after filling Mom’s flower pots, that I took home with me. Nothing goes to waste around here. I added those begonias to the assorted remnants camped out on the picnic table in my backyard. 

After completing my day, which included delightful time with granddaughter Aubrey, I returned home, just as the sun was sinking. This is a magical time in the garden. It’s the cool of the day. I love wandering among the plants and containers. I only intended to water the transplants and the container plants. And then that little group of left over plants caught my attention. 

To me, the plants looked forlorn, not chosen for containers and creative projects. The last of the coleus, the leftover verbena in mismatched colors, the odd numbered begonias, a lone petunia. I wasn’t dressed for gardening, but the light was fading. I pushed up my sleeves and pulled my long hair back into a pony tail. And I was humming, rummaging through pots and containers, to see what I could create. 

As I worked, my hands digging in the rich dirt, I had a garden epiphany, a life epiphany. The plants simply did not care that they were the last to be planted. They didn’t feel forlorn or rejected or neglected. Those were old feelings of mine stirring. The last coleus, with its variegated leaves, looked strikingly beautiful in a copper container that I had forgotten about. 

And the three remaining gazania don’t mind sharing space with portulaca, a combo I’ve never considered. The two very different varieties of flowering plants aren’t competing, feeling horrified at being together in the old red and white enameled wash tub, or fighting to dominate. There’s no lack. They have all the nutrients, water and sunshine available to them that they need, and they are just being…being flowering plants, growing, stretching toward the sun, radiating beauty. 

The left over verbena don’t care what color their blooms are or how they are mixed together in the second enamel container. The red flowered verbena will be red, and the purple one, purple. And I am the only one who will be surprised to discover what color the “mystery” plants will be. All will offer exactly what they have to offer, without ego, without apology, without effort. 

As I finished up for the evening, leaving a few more plants to tuck into pots tomorrow, I thought about whether I can do the same…offer to the world exactly what I have to offer, without ego, apology or effort. Can I just be, as these plants do? How grateful I was for the realizations from the garden. And then I laughed, accepting that the plants don’t care whether I learn from them or not. They are what they are. They are mirroring my thoughts back to me and it is the Divine who whispers, “Cindy, consider the flowers…” 

There is a Zen saying that Alan Watts shares:

“The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection; The water has no mind to receive their image.” 

They do what they do, beautifully. The plants do not intend to raise my awareness and enlarge my heart. They do what they do, beautifully. I am still and thoughtful and full of joy as the sun disappears and darkness falls. I am surrounded by deep magic. 

Journey 104: My Happy Place

In spite of a canopy of dark clouds today, only occasional drops of rain fell. When the temperature climbed into the mid 60’s, I answered the tug to wander out into the backyard. I only intended to take a stroll, checking the new growth.

Soon I was humming and pulling weeds, exclaiming over new green stalks appearing all over the garden, pushing up through the mulch and last year’s dry leaves. The outdoors beckoned and this became my journey today. After dealing with the weeds, I set out the metal buckets and containers. It seemed the perfect afternoon to begin planting.

I always smile as soon as I pull into the parking lot at Lowe’s Garden Center. I can meander among the colorful flowers and varied plants, shrubs and trees for hours, thinking, dreaming, deciding. This is one of my favorite happy places. I can’t be here without being inspired.

My purpose today was to search out and purchase this year’s first flowers for the containers, with Aunt Annie’s metal tub foremost in my mind. I knew what I wanted for that metal tub, color wise. The joy was in finding the perfect flowering representation of those colors. I didn’t spend hours browsing today. In 30 minutes I was headed back home, plants carefully nestled on the floor in the back of the car.

My aunt, who recently stepped into eternity, loved to garden, as do many in my family. It must be our Celtic roots that bind us to the green earth so. I am extremely honored to have Aunt Annie’s tub, a cherished gift from my cousins. Late this afternoon I planted my chosen flowers within the container, and added plants as well to two metal buckets and a vintage watering can, grouped around it.

Aunt Annie was born on the 4th of July. It seemed very appropriate to me to fill her container with red, white and blue flowers. And so tucked into the rich, fragrant soil are red Verbena, white Calibrachea, and blue Lobelia. I’m pleased with the way it looks, and as the plants mature, the Calibrachea will trail over the edges. I will think of Annie and the blessings of her life and love, every time I look at the showy display in her tub.

The tall metal bucket behind the tub holds more red Verbena and white Calibrachea, while the watering can is planted with coral Portulaca. I love combining yellows and purples. The dented, beautifully imperfect bucket cradles Margarita African Daisies in those brilliant colors. When the Fireworks Gomphrena plants arrive that I’m ordering, I’ll add them to this corner of the brick patio, in honor of Uncle Dale who passed recently also. It will be my own little memorial garden.

As much as I enjoy the garden center at Lowe’s, nothing compares to this place in my own backyard, my ultimate Happy Place. In this sheltered but not so secret garden, I can just be. I soak in peace and joy as surely as my plants soak up the sun’s rays. Truly, my happiness is found within my own being, but it is called forth in this place of beauty, radiating outward from me, to every corner of the garden. It then returns to me in waves, amplified, washing over me and filling me. I smile. I sing. My hands get dirty. I am so content.