AROUND THE FARM: Letting the Garden Grow

summer memoriesIt’s funny how you can forget in the dead of winter and damp of spring that there are warmer, sunnier days to come. Days when mowing the grass will become a chore again, when people will complain about the heat instead of the cold, when bug spray and sunscreen will replace coats and jackets.

Seeing the photo above is like getting a shot of green medicine right the arm. It both hurts and helps, making me long for the return of such days.

I take pictures every year of my garden to remember what I have to look forward to. It also helps me recall what is growing exactly where, how I planted and arranged my pots and baskets, if there’s a plant that’s getting too big for a particular spot (i.e,, the sedum on the right that now clearly needs a bigger home).

And it also serves to remind me that the creative work is never done. It’s both exciting and daunting, knowing that a garden–a creation all it’s own–will change and grow with or without my help. That I can affect it, but not necessarily ever control it’s outcome. That some things went as I planned, but others took another path. That it will come back, return to life, even when things appear most barren and dark.

There are just too many variables in such a living work of art as a garden. And in that idea, I think, there is a freedom from the responsibility that’s typically attached to other forms of art. A photograph or story or poem can be crafted, controlled, tweaked to the artist’s particular desires. At some point you can be done, content with a finished piece or product.

But a garden has a mind of its own.

A garden is more like an agreement among living things, an arrangement that must be altered at times as the needs of it’s particular population change, including those of the gardener. And it’s up to her or him to recognize those needs and respond accordingly.

Or to do nothing, and just see what happens. Let the creation unfold on its own, which it inevitably will.

I’m realizing that the garden provides a needed counterweight to my other creative efforts. One that keeps everything balanced, reminding me to let go sometimes, especially when I most want to control. It helps me stay grounded, alongside my horticultural charges, realizing that not everything can be contained, anticipated, or even saved at times, despite every effort I might make.

It’s unpredictable and freeing and glorious in it’s wake. A creation that serves me just as well as I serve it.

So I’m looking forward to see what changes this year will bring, Yes, that sedum has to come out. But who knows what will take its place, or where I will find a new spot for it? Small but exciting thoughts in my own tiny corner of this world.

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