This evening is silver…no other way I would want to describe it. It is illuminated by the half-light of dusk. Beyond tender leaves backed in downy silver, a charcoal sky deepens in the distance. It is spring in my part of the world…
Lady slippers have unfurled in the crinkled leaf litter, and trilliums sway in the temporate breeze. I wonder at the steadfast return… a year of seasons coming full circle.
Just as assuredly as the spring returns, and the clock spins forward, so does my mind spin backward. When I was a small child, I wandered field and woodland, searching for spring flowers. I was maker of bouquets. I reckon that they were actually nosegays, such tiny bouquets– violets, hepaticas, wood anemones and forget-me-nots.
I guess that the forest contained my first flower garden 🙂 But my first "real" flower garden was a rock-lined rectangle that contained pansies. It was next to the big old stone cellar steps on the southwest side of the house. Heavy clay and far too much sun for a pansy’s liking, made it a failure by most standards.
But, failure or not, I loved it. I spent hours next to it, daydreaming, and thinking. Pansies are, after all, the flowers of thought.
I daydreamed, amongst other things, of other flower gardens that could be built, out beyond the spring, next to the hemlocks, in the unbounded wildness… bounded, contained, controlled, conformed… and they dazzled in my mind’s eye.
The years rolled onward and, somewhere along the way, I became absolutely enthralled with flower gardening. It evolved and changed with age, just like me.
I ran the gamut of simple gardens, gardens of symmetry, statuary, wood chips, marble chips, sun gardens, shade gardens, landscape fabric, named varieties… <heavy sigh> and all the while I fought to control the bounds of the gardens…to keep my garden in and to keep the wildness out.
Today, I stood in the vegetable garden, small by any former garden standards. It has been eeked out of the corner of the property above the house where once wildness ruled. This year, once again, the encroaching edge of nature had to be trimmed back to make room for the garden, the place where plants stay where they are planted, and behave…they are bounded, grown in a box, conformed, constrained…oh so civilized.
The wind raged through the trees, singing around branches already dense with leaves. They tossed and heaved in the way of the approaching storm…
It made my heart pound with an exhilaration that I cannot explain.
It really made me think, though, about the wildness that I have tried so hard to control. Yet here it is, singing and swaying with a beauty so wild and so pure…
I thought about the last few years of gardening, and how soft I have become. How my focus has been on blending the civilized plants into the wildness that dwells under the shade of all those tall hardwoods. I have planted named varieties of ferns, hostas and heucheras…next to wild foamflower, false solomen’s seal, and native ferns that nature planted…
The gardens that I am creating are far from what I had pictured. The neatness, the tidiness, the distinct lines between wild and tame have become blurred at best, nonexistent for the most part.
An evolution? A continuance of the unavoidable evolution?
In the distance, off to the west, the thunder rumbles; I feel it as much as I hear it. The wildness within me responding, perhaps?
The gardens are trying to teach me a lesson, I reckon…a lesson as old as the time gardening began. Only so much in life can be controlled– or more importantly, only so much in life should be controlled.
For years, I lived my life like I planted gardens, so conforming…so controlled, so civilized, as I denied the part of me that struggled to exist, to even be heard– the girl who first gardened in a forest of wildflowers…
And as my life matures, I see so clearly how tame and wild co-exist. They compliment each other… the tame provides a place of predictability and comfort, while the wild beckons "Come, sway and sing– dance in the wind while the thunder beats out the rythm."
Life "ain’t" all about neat little rows 😉 Sometimes it comes down to feeling the rain, the wild heart that beats in your breast, and embracing the wild and innocent soul that cries to exist, to even be heard… and to gather your flowers in the forest instead of in the formal garden…