On Gardening

The Cherry Tree in my front yard.


I wouldn’t call myself a gardener. I don’t love it, but I love the idea of it. Mental pictures of a perfectly ordered garden — lush, green grass sloping down toward beautiful bushes full of blooms: hydrangeas, poppies, peonies, and roses — fills me with a  giddy kind of joy and contentment. I imagine a riot of color, attracting butterflies, bees, and birds to my back-yard oasis. And a maze. Somehow, there’s always a maze in my imagined garden. What can I say? The available real estate in my mind is vast and untamed. The available real estate in my back yard is about the size of a postage stamp. Okay, maybe two postage stamps taped together, if we’re being generous. So, yes … in my mind, I love gardening and everything to do with it. It seems like a perfect fit — out communing with nature, turning over the cool, rich soil in my hands, singing Disney songs with the squirrels and chipmunks.

San Francisco sunflower


In reality … not so much. It’s back-breaking work that I find less than rewarding. I don’t like getting dirt under my fingernails or ground into my skin. I’m afraid of spiders — and most other bugs, too, truth be told. I’m allergic to pretty much everything that grows or blows around on the wind outside. And, if a squirrel came up and tried to sing with me, I would probably think it was rabid. The thought of this, alone, is enough to send me running toward the house, crying for my mama.

Garden: Colonial Williamsburg, VA


But, a few weeks ago, the “great outdoors” and I collided. It was a long time coming and, quite frankly, unavoidable for both of us. You see, my house has a front flower bed. And, when we bought the place and moved in, there were some juniper bushes planted there. These were not huge bushes. They were low-growing, prickly-spiky sorts of things that just sort of sat there and added nothing to the landscape. Well, nothing except for a hearty dose of “Hey, you! Get away from our house! We’re prickly and not friendly or happy! Grrr!” Seriously, if plants could talk, that’s what these bushes would have been saying. The first thing I wanted to do after taking ownership of the house was to pull those darn bushes out. Everyone told me to leave them. My hubby said it would be too much trouble to pull them out. My parents told me the bushes were “pretty” and that I was only trying to change things for the sake of changing them. But I didn’t care. I hated those bushes. HATED THEM. They had to go.

Roses from King William Resort, Williamsburg VA


But … life happened. I had a kid. I lost a dog. I got a new dog. And another dog. And two hamsters. And volunteered at preschool and then elementary school. And then Girl Scouts. Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, ten years zoomed by. And I was still walking out of my front door, looking at (and, often, stumbling over … because it had grossly overgrown the confines of its bed) this darn plant that I despised. Call it apathy. Call it laziness. Call it being overwhelmed by life. Call it whatever. The juniper was still there, still going strong. And I hated it more than ever. It had become more than a plant. It had, somehow, become a symbol of everything I don’t love about my house.

Bishop's Garden, National Cathedral: Washington, DC

No more. On that day, I had had enough. It was time to begin the long task of wiping  the slate clean for me and for this house. While my kiddo was a couple of houses down, trading Pokemon cards with a friend, I got out the pruning shears. I cut. I lopped. I demolished with a brutal zeal that, really, should have frightened me. But it didn’t. Instead, it only drove me on. And now, the juniper is gone. Mostly. I still need to dig out the last few roots. But, for now, it’s enough to know I won’t have to look at that prickly mess any longer. For now, I am content.

Mums and a bee, Leesburg VA


What will I plant there? I have no idea. For now, I am enjoying the empty space — the utter lack of anything sharp, prickly, and uninviting. I think that’s enough for the winter. Soon, it will be spring — a time when every girl’s mind dwells on one eternal question: Can I fit a hedge maze into this flowerbed?


2 thoughts on “On Gardening

  1. I love gardening but have not done any for a long time. Since I started renting again, in fact. I hate the idea of making some one else’s garden beautiful and then leaving it to be untended again. I do, however, LOVE taking photos of flowers! They are my favourite subject. I love the pink blossoms (cherry?) you have a photo of. 🙂

    • Hello and thanks so much for visiting my blog! I am happy that you liked my post and the photos, too. I’m sorry for the late reply. I’ve been away from my blog because of the holidays. Everything got way too busy for me.

      I rented for a long, long time. And I always thought the same thing: that I didn’t want to put the time and effort into making another person’s garden beautiful, only to have to leave it eventually. I kept on dreaming of the day when I would have a house of my own and be able to create the garden of my dreams. Turns out, though, that the joke was on me, I guess. Now that I have my own place, I found I’m not very good at gardening at all. 😀

      The pink blossoms are cherry blossoms. They are from the cherry tree that grows in my front yard. I get excited every spring, waiting for its flowers to come out into the warmer weather.

      Thanks again for visiting and for your wonderfully kind comment. I appreciate it very much!

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