Tending my garden, tending my soul, by Tina


My garden is in its purple stage, the bearded irises are up and showy, the mountain bluets are on their last hurrah. Soon the vivid evening primroses will bloom and begin the burst that by the end of July will rival any garden. I am grateful for this time to fuss and watch. I love the long season of it, the welcome tease of snowdrops tenaciously pushing up out of the snow and ice of dark times just to say “hang on, there is always spring.” Then the primrose with cold roots most happy in the muddy beds of March, blooming red against the constant punishing gray, seeming oblivious to the chill we all guard against.

By the time the crocuses and daffodils bud, there are tender shoots of perennials waking from their beds. Like old friends, I celebrate their seasonal visits. And because the world is as it is, each year there are surprises. A forgotten lily, barely making an appearance for years bursts upward with force and determination, with a companion never planted and where the wild daisies appear is always a surprise.

I have had many failures in my garden, planting things only to pull them up as weeds the next year, or planting beautiful flowers that take over and destroy whole beds of less virulent plants. I’ve taken trowel and pitch forks to these intruders I invited in and with vengeance ripped them out, only to see them appear again beneath a leaf, across the yard, in another garden all together. I respect their insistence; I need to learn this.

And in the next several weeks when the blooming is almost audible, I will begin to take down and put to bed the spring visitors. I have already clipped the snowdrops, tied back the daffodils to make room for the annuals and I feel sad because here in the north the season is so short. Recently I have been planting late bloomers. Perhaps that is what one does after 50. My newest plants, mums and moonflowers will bloom as the leaves are falling and the October frost kills the annuals to spidery translucent stalks. Against the full Beaver Moon of November the moonflower will bloom and reach for the fading rays. And I’ll leave the stalk until it seeds for the migrating birds and the busy chipmunk, and perhaps for me…to seed my life with promises and hope against the darkest days.

Gardening as a spiritual practice

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