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a place of your own

the art of waiting

You walk along the garden path one morning, look around and wonder where did it all come from. Naturally, you planted them all, or nearly all, with a few pleasant surprises here and there of self-sown perennials that sprung out from under annual growies before you got to notice them. Otherwise, though, the tall, stately beauties surrounding you are always taking you by surprise, because the first lesson in humility that is served to obstinate gardeners is the unwillingness of living things to develop according to your plans. They have their own internal clocks, their own environmental sensitivities and a completely different relationship with time than you.

So, those lupines that you planted and thought dead sprung up on you two years later, after you planted cosmos over them the following year, which self-seeded, and now both plants are gracefully mixing in a fluff of stringy and palmed leaves, taking over an entire portion of your garden that you were intending for a completely different purpose this year. Or the snapdragons whose seeds you spread evenly over an area, but they decided to all come out bundled together to the left of the patch, leaving the rest of the dirt barren. Or the lily-of-the-valley that you tried to start from roots in the same spot for three years in a row, and now it decided to come out all at the same time and completely take over.

Maybe you were planning, but your garden begs to differ. And when the garden and the gardener have different opinions, the garden usually wins.

The struggling plant that you moved because you needed the space and didn’t feel like throwing away now thrives in its new location with a vigor beyond expectations. Sun loving plants keep blooming in the shade behind the house, in a place that, of course, is not a showy feature of your garden. After a while, the oddities and surprises of your garden become familiar and dear to you, like an old friend’s little idiosyncrasies warm up your heart after you haven’t seen her in a while. A sense of peace descends upon the wiser gardener, a sense of acceptance that in this dialogue with nature, nature has something to say back to you.

If those plants that you failed to recognize when you transferred them outdoors and planted them at the front of the flower bed turned out to be tomatoes, or if the sun garden you neatly organized according to height and flowering season exploded into a jumbled jungle of healthy growth, or if the miniature zinnias developed into four foot tall tree-like structures, or if all those tens of berries you saw on your strawberry plants were gone the second they turned slightly ripe because squirrels and rabbits believed in sharing, enjoy it, allow it, embrace it.

If gardening only taught me one thing it would be the art of waiting. If you have enough patience and time, things kinda turn out the way you planned, sort of, eventually.

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