Goodness, where has June gone? Or May for that matter? It’s been over a month since I’ve written, and I feel gripped by that old cliché, “time got away from me.”
Well, that’s not exactly true. I was fully aware of how I was using my hours and days during the past month.
I made a conscious choice to spend much of my time in the garden, and as with most of my endeavors in the house and garden, I forgot that these things take at least twice as much time as I think they will.
But I’m delighted to say that this particular project is finally done.
It was a continuation of one we started several years ago: replacing wide swaths of lawn with drought-tolerant plants and paths. I think our timing is good, considering that California is facing another year of drought, and who knows what the rain gods will bring in the future?
So there I was, a few years back, taking a leap of faith and actually putting plants in the ground.
Up until then I’d only been willing to put them in pots. Somewhere along the way I adopted the belief that although I was a pretty good container gardener, I would most certainly fail if I actually tried to insert plants into the scary terrain of my backyard, a land full of clumpy, crappy, clay soil.
Apparently one guise of my inner critic is a fussy old gardener. But I can now confidently report that she has been banished.
(It helped to discover that there is quite an easy way to rid yourself of unwanted lawn and improve the soil at the same time: simply dig a small v-shaped trench around the area of lawn you want to replace, cover said lawn with several layers of newspaper, add about a three inch layer of manure, and finish off with a healthy topping of mulch. Do this in the fall and let it all stew together until spring, when you’ll be met not only with an absence of lawn, but also happy soil that can’t wait for the new plants.)
So here I am, a few years later, with a garden that boggles my mind.
Never in my wildest dreams (back in my container gardening days) did I expect to have a big circle of fragrant, calming lavender in the middle of my backyard, a mini-field of lipstick red salvia billowing over a curved path, feather grasses dancing with the wind, and arching butterfly bushes that are now well past the six-foot mark. (You can see the grasses and the butterly bushes in the photo below).
Not to mention the vines. Woo Hoo, the vines! Morning Glory! Trumpet! Passion! I love their names, all clutching and reaching and grabbing and holding on to whatever they can.
My husband put it perfectly and eloquently: “If you ever have any doubts about the force of life, just go spend some time with those vines.”
Yes. That’s just what I do whenever I can, sit amongst the towering vines drinking my morning coffee and thinking about what this garden has taught me. As I was recently reflecting on this (and flipping through a gardening magazine), I came across this quote:
“GARDENING REQUIRES PATIENCE. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE, REALLY.”
PATIENCE. You bet. That’s been the biggie that I’ve learned from this garden. And it was hard for me in the beginning. A few months after I planted a screen of upright rosemary that was promised to top out at six feet, I proposed taking it out and finding something that would grow faster. Thankfully I reined myself in and decided to give it time. Now, 18 months later, it’s made it to almost five feet.
Yet initially, I didn’t think it was growing FAST enough. So being patient was a challenge. But patience is a challenge for many of us, isn’t it?
How often have you been there, thinking that things in your life aren’t happening FAST enough? I often ask my clients this question, “How do you cultivate your patience?” Because whether it’s a new career, a better relationship, a creative project, or increased health, it will most certainly require patience.
Sometimes my clients rail at this notion. And I get that. I’ve been there. We all have. WE WANT IT NOW. Actually, I think we want it yesterday.
I notice, though, that there’s often a shift that happens for people. At some point they give up railing against not having it now. They settle down. They relax. They breathe a little more deeply. After we’ve worked together for a little while, they come in and say, “I’ve realized that this will take time. I’ve also realized that I can give myself that time.”
When that happens it’s a red-letter day, because these individuals have found a way to cultivate their patience.
And the interesting thing is that if you find a way to cultivate your patience in one area of life (like in the garden for me), it will lead to more patience in other areas of your life as well. And ironically, you will actually begin to accomplish much more than you ever did in your impatient state.
So why not start now?
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Holy frijole, Patty — I about jumped out of my skin when I read this post! You’re talking about the utmost passion in my life (gardening) and the biggest lesson I’ve EVER learned (patience). Huge thanks for being a kindred spirit! I’m directing you to my “other” blog that is takinga rest while I wander with my daughter. Mostly about gardening. . . 🙂 OK, I gotta get back to reading!
Hi Jeanne – How delightful to discover a kindred spirit! I did read your story about how you left your job to travel and then the best job ever appeared for you as the gardener/landscaper at the campground. I’m still quite a novice gardener myself, but it teaches me so much and surely does make me slow down and learn to be patient. Thanks so much for your comment!