Okay, I have a big confession to make: I have never been much of a gardener. My mom was a gardener, and my sister followed suit. So why did I need to join them? I wanted to be a gypsy traveler. To be a gardener, one has to have a home, generally speaking. You can have a front garden, a back garden, even a side garden. But it’s difficult to have a traveling garden.
Now I have settled, at least for the moment. I’m now 50/50, homebody and traveler. (Okay, maybe 37/63…). The point is, I can now have a garden.
Last year, I watched in fascination as my rosebushes bloomed, christening my first spring in the new house. The roses were large and showy, and some were delicate and tiny. They ranged from deep red to cherry red, yellows, pinks, whites, and some almost purple. I sent a prayer of gratitude to the old lady who had previously tended to them as I cut some and put them in a vase.
This year, I have watched as flowers bloomed in succession. First, I had lilacs and tulips. Then daffodils. Now, it’s the irises that are coming out, and the lilies I just put in a month ago are poking up out of the dirt, showing me they’ll be coming out in summer.
I remember planting bulbs with my daughter, a long time ago. We buried them a few inches down and she patiently checked daily until we saw tiny green shoots coming out.
“Mama, where are the flowers?”
“They’ll bloom in April,” I told her.
“How do they know when to bloom?”
How, indeed? But sure enough, in April, we had crocuses of purple, yellow, and white, clustering around the rocks in their showy frocks like a gaggle of teenagers at a prom.
And I notice the sequence of blooms: the lilacs and tulips, the irises, and soon, roses and lilies. Selfishly, I want them all at once, and I want them to last the whole spring and summer. Why can’t I have a burst of gorgeous color, everything at the same time? Somehow, the flowers just don’t agree. They burst and die, a succession of fireworks in the summer sky.
I realize that the garden is like life, in a broad, clichéd way: you don’t get the tulips and the lilies at the same time. Each blooms and fades in its own time. Of course we want it all at once, but it wouldn’t be right. They say you need the dark times to appreciate the light.
I am sure there are gardeners, or lucky beginners (like me?) who are able to schedule the blooms in the garden so that they are one after another, so that they are never without color and fragrance. The spring and summer will be bright and festive, flowers popping and blooming and adorning the garden for the whole season. I aspire to be such a knowledgeable gardener.
In the garden, as in life, I want to keep the colors coming, one surprise after another. And I know that as I learn, I will get better at it every year. I look forward to it, as I combat weeds and unwelcoming dirt, and I know that as I practice I will have rich blossoms and fragrant flowers and luscious greenery to adorn my life.