Just Mow it Down!

Over the past few weeks several friends came to my yard to dig-up flowers and though it felt like they had come en masse to the gardens, they hadn’t. In groups of two’s and three’s they came, they dug, and they left. All were delighted with their trunks and back seats filled to capacity with buckets and boxes of ferns, hostas, anemones, variegated loosestrife, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs, Asiatic, oriental and day- lilies, iris, coreopsis, rose campion, ground covers, vines, and the Good Lord knows what else.

They were all very happy, and I was pleased to have shared what had brought me joy for over twenty years. That was until I turned around after the final digger drove away. My gardens were now patches of weeds, random stalks of unwanted perennials, and potholes.

The last woman who came to dig had offered to help me with gardening during the summer. She reneged, choosing to work the gardens at a Catholic retirement community instead. I understood her change of heart and saw her volunteering on their grounds as being similar to my work for God at the retreat center.  I was delighted that the elderly would see God’s beauty as the result of her efforts. But honestly, I was disappointed that I would be left behind. My hope for a friend’s weekly visits and help over the summer vanished.

For those of you who know me know I cry easily—when I see you after a long absence, when you go away again, when I am filled with joy, sadness, frustration, or deep prayer I cry. So it’s no surprise that I welled up with tears when I looked at what was left of my gardens.

As I walked to the shed I smiled as I imagined Scotty from Star Trek reducing the flowers that remained into bits of electrons and transporting them to all of you via the internet. Then, poof, clumps of soil land on your desks with greens flopping all over the keyboard and folders. And my accompanying message…Sorry, and you’re welcome.

Unlatching the double doors of the shed I pulled out the self-propelled lawn mower. Determinedly I walked it to the front yard, turned the key to start the engine, took a deep breath and moved it into the gardens. Working around the potholes, I reduced to mulch what plants remained.  I wasn’t sure if it was harder physically or emotionally…didn’t matter…I had to clean up the mess as best I could.

And then it was finished. And I didn’t want to feel sad anymore. And I didn’t want to look up at what remained. I shut-off the mower and turned full round.

There before me stood the basic structure of my gardens; the shrubs and ornamental trees. With all the perennials stripped away, the simplicity and beauty supported itself. I discovered that the landscape was only adorned by the smaller things that added texture and color to the space. All the pretty stuff had been nice, but they had depended on a good foundation.

I was content as I cleaned the debris from the mower before putting it back in the shed. It’s beginning to feel good to simplify and get back to the basics of life.



  • hamiltonr

    Beautiful Margaret Rose … and just what I needed today. Thank you.

    • mrrealy

      You are welcome!

  • Heloise1

    I garden in the desert of western Texas, where I can indulge my love of native plants. 3 springs ago I cam home from my favorite nursery with 6 bluebonnet seedlings and stuck these annuals in the perennial bed that occupies the narrow strip between my house and the street. With the indulgence of a lot of water, they bloomed very nicely. I was pleased and let them go to seed, hoping that I would have a few the following year. To my surprise and the delight of half my small town, they took off and completely engulfed the bed. Many of my carefully chosen perennials died and the rest were left tall, frail and very leggy. The bed looked very sad all summer.

    I spent last winter carefully weeding out most of the bluebonnet seedlings. The display this spring was still eye stopping and many of my friends and acquaintances asked for seed.

    Certainly!, I replied. Take as much as you want! However, no one ever showed up to stand in the hot sun and collect seed. You are blessed to know people who will take your babies to loving homes.

    Enjoy your garden in its simple form. As I age, I’m finding myself with a back garden that has naturalized to the point of chaos.
    A very lovely chaos where everyone is growing where they feel most happy, if not the place I chose for them to live.

    • mrrealy

      Thank you. And I hope we both grow old gracefully with only a smattering of chaos to keep things interesting.

  • Nancy Ward

    Back to the basics seems to be in the air! Even our dear Pope Francis is calling us to a simpler way of life by his words and by his example. I guess you could view your garden as a Papal Tribute!