Old Friends


I love spring. Mainly because I love to see the return of my perennial flowers. There is something magical about their (seeming) death in the fall and winter and the miracle of their resurrection in the spring.

Over the weekend, I was doing some weeding in the front garden beds and I stumbled across this new growth. This is a begonia. Which is weird for two reasons: first, these begonias didn’t grow very well last year. They didn’t even make it through the summer or ever bloom. It was very sad. Second, these begonias aren’t perennial (or so I thought – some varieties are perennial apparently). But we had such a mild winter, they came back. Either way, I am delighted.

Seeing these (and other spring-sprouting plants) pop up is like meeting with old friends. In the spring, I generally wander my garden and welcome all the returning plants (by name – ok, so I’m a bit odd in that respect, but from what I learned growing up, talking to plants is a good thing. We have had some fabulous conversations over the years and I’m always glad to see them. Can plants serve as emotional support “pets”? Yes, I think so).

The other delight for me in gardening is dividing large plants and transplanting their young to new locations. In the house where I live now, I have a devil of a time figuring out how to grow things here: even full sun plants can’t handle Texas summers in sun. But they can (sometimes) in shade. So I have been experimenting (as none of my carefully considered plans seems to work) with a hit-or-miss method will at least help me learn where I might plant things. That, Texas native plants (when I can find them, yay!) and copious notes on what appears/thrives/dies in each location. After being here five years, I am finally moving beyond transplanting variegated monkey grass and am moving on to dividing columbines – much more exciting! – with plans to divide my daffodils come fall.

Alas! The beautiful garden I wish for at my place of residence is taking many years to cultivate. But I think the patience required for this has also taught me a lot. I tend to get big ideas and have a difficult time waiting for them to come to actual fruition. Expectations for results are high. Plants won’t allow rushing. There is really nothing I can do (or I should say, that I am willing to do – I try to be an organic gardener as much as possible) to make them grow faster.

But faster isn’t always better. When I think of the Coronavirus and the collective desire for it to be over and behind us, I am reminded that sometimes, we just have to wait. And waiting can be difficult. The necessary cultivation happens in the waiting. What are you cultivating over time right now while you are waiting?

Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success, and they are in such a hurry to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves. And when the madness is upon them, they argue that their very haste is a species of integrity. (Thomas Merton)

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