Growing up, I remember watching my grandpa and my mom spend hours in the garden. I didn’t get it. It was hot, there were bugs, and why did they care so much about weeds? I just couldn’t understand how, after hours of working in the garden every weekend, there was STILL more they wanted to do next weekend. It seemed boring, tedious, and just plain unnecessary to me. As it turns out, they were onto something. Now that I own a house and have my own garden, I find myself losing track of time as I pull weeds, cut back bushes, and analyze the placement of every plant. I anxiously await days when I have time to go to the garden center, and walk around in a complete daze looking at all of the possibilities for my garden.
When my husband and I moved into our house, the garden was overrun with daisies. They looked pretty at first, but soon it started looking like we were trying to grow a daisy jungle. I had no idea how invasive and tall they could get. I spent our first summer in our house digging, pulling and cutting daisies. Apparently, daisies have “strong, vigorous root systems.” Yep. They sure do. At the time, I was working out every day, racing in triathlons, and considered myself in great shape. However, I have never been as sore and tired as I was after digging up those daisies. Lesson learned: gardening is hard work.
Once I finally cleared out my garden, I realized it was like a blank canvas for me. At first it was daunting. I had no idea what plants would look good, which would be invasive, or if the sun on my east-facing house would immediately fry them. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. That first summer, I planted a lot of ground cover which, as it turns out, can take a long time to grow. Lesson learned: gardening requires patience.
Now that it’s been a few years of growing, planting, and cutting, I feel like I’m finally learning what it takes to maintain a garden. Obviously, for the garden, it’s water and sun. But for me, it’s patience and flexibility. When the flowers and plants became more established, I realized I didn’t like the placement or even the type of plant. So, guess what? I can just dig the plant out and replace it with a new one. What I’m realizing is there is no right way to garden. For a recovering perfectionist like me, this took a while to grasp. But who am I trying to impress? Sure, I want my garden to look good so people passing by enjoy it. But really the most important thing is that I enjoy it. I’m learning that I get to have creative control over this garden. But most importantly, I feel closer to my late grandpa than I have in years. I have flowers in my garden that my mom transplanted from her garden, just like my grandpa used to do for her. To make it even better, my four-year-old has shown an interest in gardening. As I sit with him planting the flowers that he gets to pick out for his own small garden, I feel like I’m passing on a love that was taught to me by my grandpa and then my mom. In keeping our garden alive, I’m keeping these important memories alive. Lesson learned: gardening is more than just planting flowers.