A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rising Through the Weeds

I don’t handle change well. I like my routines, every day the same as the one before it. But therein lays stagnation so sometimes I force myself to go outside of my comfort zone, to stretch my wings like a butterfly newly released from its chrysalis. While my garden slept this winter, I allowed what I thought was a healthy change to take shape in my life. I nurtured it for months. Like a new plant in my garden, I tried various ways to help it grow. I made mistakes of course, but it continued to develop, gradually consuming more and more of my life.

As winter turned into spring, so much of my energy was taken up by events outside of my garden that I fell behind both in the garden and in the blog where I record its progress. I struggled to keep up. I tried to make time in my by now busy life but even as I lost control of my schedule, I lost my creativity. By the time the tulips began to bloom, all was lost. This blog fell silent.

Spring overtook my garden and the change that had consumed so much of my time, my energy, even my spirit, began to fail. For the entire month of May I could only watch helplessly as it began its inevitable decline. The lovingly nurtured change died this past weekend. Yesterday, as the rest of the nation celebrated the beginning of the summer season, I was surrounded by gloom. My feelings, my very being had been ruthlessly tossed aside much like the weeds that we gardeners rip from our gardens and toss carelessly into the compost.

I have not felt that much pain since the birth of my daughter. This time, the pain was in my soul rather than my body. Pain so great it even robbed me of my voice. I silently writhed in torment on the floor. Many hours later, the cleansing tears finally came, like the soothing rains of a summer shower on the parched landscape. Sleep, however, escaped me. As the sun rose this morning, I found myself gazing into the abyss. What was it that tore my gaze from the seeming comfort of nothingness? Was it the cats meowing for their breakfast? Was it the soft warmth of the breeze through my windows? Perhaps it was the glimpse of a new iris blooming. Whatever it was, I dragged myself away from the false promise of relief and reached out to friends, fellow gardeners and animal lovers.

My cry for help is being answered very generously. My healing has begun. I know it will be a long time before I feel whole again. Time that will be spent in my garden. I will be documenting that time with my new camera. An unreported death occurred this month. My digital camera, originally a freebie as a result of gross overspending on a credit card, has faithfully served me through four years of abuse. Despite being tossed around my tool bag, covered with dirt, used in the rain and mercilessly banged around, it has taken pictures so wonderful that they have garnered First Place ribbons in the photo competition at the State Garden Show two years in a row.

After careful consideration, I have replaced it with a much coveted digital SLR. I chose the Nikon D40 for its price and simplicity. Its lack of features, much lamented by reviewers, is what I find attractive. It’s a great camera to learn on. The first batch of photos showed me that I had something very special.

I heart my new camera. It allows me to finally capture my garden the way that I see it, like this iris bud.

It turns ordinary moments into magical scenes.

Click to enlarge. The raindrops on the rose are spectacular.

It even turns an ordinary flower into an extraordinary flower.

2007 – Ugly yellow iris

2008 – the same iris seemingly glamorized

I haven’t given up on change. As a gardener, I know that failure is a common occurrence. It’s just a matter of the right plant for the right spot. Through the usual trial and error method, I’m confident that I will eventually find the right companion plant for this old rose.


At 3:22 AM, Blogger Pamela said...

I found your blog quite by accident this evening. Your words touched me and though I don't know you and can't possibly know the pain you are going through, I wish you the best and a soothing and healing time as you work through this in your garden.

At 4:58 AM, Blogger Colleen said...


I don't know what to say---your pain is evident in this post, and I wish I had more than words on a computer to offer you. But since that's all I have, I just wanted to let you know that I'm sorry this change has been so painful, and that I hope that time, and time spent in the garden, rejuvenates your spirit. I wish you all the best, my friend, and if there's anything I can do for you, I'm only a mouse click away.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Brenda Hyde said...

I truly believe that our gardens and our writing can heal. Expressing yourself in photography too will help you work through the pain. I wish I could take it away for you, so you wouldn't have to work through it, but since I can't I'll just encourage you to share with us. Nurture your garden, and take care of yourself, please.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Pamela, thanks for your kind words. I hope you will drop by again when I am back to blogging about the successes, failures and comedy in the garden.

Colleen, I've often thought of emailing you, especially when I didn't participate in the Mousies but my life was in a whirl and I couldn't slow down my thoughts enough to put them into words.

Brenda, I don't normally blog about my life outside of my garden. I'm hoping as you noted that I can write my way through the pain. I'm finding photography to be very soothing. Concentrating on tiny details is a welcome distraction right now.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

I can't add much, except to take note of how you chose to close your post: the "ugly" Iris transformed by being viewed through a different lens.

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to stop by. Like Colleen said, I'm only a mouse click away. Even bad change can teach us good things, but it's never any fun at the time.

At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OldRoses, do you remember me? I used to have the blog "Sabine's Garden". I am so sorry to read about your painful experience. This post is especially beautifully written. Someone missed out on a rare rose.

I was given a Beverly Sills iris a few years ago by one of our neighbours. It is my favourite iris. These beloved neighbours just moved out a few days ago. I hope the iris (and the many other plants D introduced to me) will always come back to remind me of them.

You take beautiful pictures. We have a good digital camera but I don't know how to use it yet. I still use my old familiar one. It has only 2.0 megapixels but it has a good quality lens (P told me) so I do manage to get some good shots. I would like to learn to take better pictures, though.

I hope you find healing through your garden... noticing, photographing and sharing the little wonders with us.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Xris, that's very astute. I didn't think of it that way. Thank you for pointing it out to me.

Kathy, thank you. I am not very good at asking for help.

Sabine, I remember you fondly. And your garden. I will think of you now when my Beverly Sills iris blooms.


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