There are gardens and then there are gardens. We are naturally more impressed by the exotic and sensational. When you walk the carefully manicured grounds at Longwood or some other impressive garden, certainly your senses are elated.
I recently kayaked to a remote island that houses old castle ruins, Bannerman’s Island in the Hudson River. I was looking forward to seeing the Scottish architecture and old arsenal that once housed military relics. I was surprised to see well-kept gardens on this rarely visited memorial. Who would go out there and tend to gardens that would hardly be appreciated?
I realized as I walked the stony paths and crumbling walls, that it’s not always the showiest flowers that say the most – sometimes it’s the secret gardens.
Large or small, a well-tended garden says: Someone cares for this place.
When I was a thoughtless teen, I went and pulled a bunch of flowers from the neighbor’s yards, brought them home and arranged them in a vase. I thought for sure my mother would be pleased.
Imagine my shock when she scowled at me!
“Whose yard have you raided?” she interrogated. I explained that I had pulled just a few from many yards and I wanted to brighten her day, but I learned a hard lesson that day.
I had seen the flowers as a wonderful source of free beauty. My mom had seen them as someone’s investment. We both appreciated their loveliness, but that’s where the similarity ended.
My mother was right - in that I had not considered who might wake up and miss those blossoms.
I was right - in that flowers cheer a heart… but I lacked consideration of how they got there. I carelessly reaped what someone else had carefully sown!
I’ve come to appreciate that gardening is more than just seeds and sun – it takes hands and heart; it takes love to grow a thing.
Whether it’s one little tomato plant or a hillside of flowers, the gardener achieves success by commitment and the sweat of his or her brow. Is she pleased when others see it, taste it, admire it? To be sure. But the real reward comes from transforming an empty space into something beautiful.
Most of the work is done in solitude – just you and the spade battling the elements. But when it’s said and done, one doesn’t do it for the fruit or the flower, one does it because they care.
It’s been said that what we do when no one is watching is who we really are.
I hope today you cut a favorite flower and give it to a neighbor… or make a homemade card and send it to a relative… or bake a cake from scratch and take it to the office. Home-grown, hand-sewn, home-made or hand-delivered, let someone know you care ;)
“I wish that everybody had a garden and worked
in it himself - the world would grow sweeter-tempered at once."
Anna Warner, Gardening By Myself
author of the poem "Jesus Loves Me"