garden lesson: tame/wild


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…

About Teresa Cypher

I live with my husband in a humble house in the middle of a tall stand of hardwoods, bordered by soybean and corn fields, in western Pennsylvania. Mother of three adult children and "Grammie" to one sweet little girl, I revel in family gatherings and celebrations. My husband and I care for the gardens on our property--our little corner of heaven, have a glass of wine at sunset, and like to watch the stars come out. Currently working in QC and Development for a Bio-technology Company that produces green, agricultural products. I came into the world a creator of stories. Having been born into a litter, the 7th of 8 children, in a farming family, I have spent most of my life trying to be an individual. My dreams took me there. From the time I was a little girl, I was a thinker, spending any time I could find to be alone--the bastion of undisturbed thoughts, dreaming of other worlds and of fairy-tale love. My mind never shut off-- through the years when thoughts allowed me to escape the everyday world of farm life, to the daydreams while I was raising children and being the cook, the baker, the candlestick maker,and the taxi driver-- all while working full time. It took until middle age for me to realize that my meandering mind was writing stories! Once I sat down and started typing, it took 2 months to write my first book. My biggest challenge at first was getting my fingers to type fast enough to keep up with my mind. My daughter bought me a small digital recorder so I could save my thoughts until my fingers could catch up. The story that I wrote, Across The Night Sky ,was years in the making, and timed well...after I had experienced real life and the joys and heartaches it brings. I think that time gave me a well-spring of experiences from which to merge fairy-tale love with the cynicism adult life creates--while never losing sight of the beautiful and wonderful that love is. Writing is my passion...this incredible discovery in mid life that often keeps me up till the wee hours of the morning. I am so very fortunate to have the opportunity to devote my time to something that brings me such joy.
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5 Responses to garden lesson: tame/wild

  1. Ewe says:

    I sure hope you were talking figuratively when you said :
    .. and to gather your flowers in the forest instead of in the formal garden…

  2. Willow says:

    It\’s all good, Ewe… just figuratively…  🙂   

  3. Ewe says:

    I kinda figured that, but had to ask, lol.

  4. Yours Truly says:

    Hi  Willow,
    What a wonderful garden your Space is.  I am enjoying all the flowers here.  I very much liked your line, "Only so much in life can be controlled– or more importantly, only so much in life should be controlled."  Nice photos of skiing.  I hope your day is going well. 

  5. Willow says:

    Hi, Truly… thanks for stopping by and reading my stuff, and for your kind words!   Skiing was great! It seems, now that it has hit 90 degrees here already, that it has been since forever that it was cold enough for snow on the ground!  🙂
    I hope that you have a really nice day, too 🙂

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