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.
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.