I have a piece of paper on the wall near my desk at work on which I printed photographs showing four views of our flower garden from last year. (See a portion of one of them above.) The pictures were taken at the peak of color, and nary a weed can be found. The pictures were taken late afternoon on a beautiful sunny day. The brick walkway looks great and the wooden bench looks very inviting.
Fast forward to, well, now. The wood chip walkways have both weeds and volunteer flowers and plants growing in them. Since the frosts, most of the flowers are dead or in the process of dying. The brick walkway has weeds growing out of it, and the raspberries that are supposed to be outside of the flower garden have found their way into several of the beds.
It’s a little frustrating to look at the flower beds now. You see, last summer’s gardening work was mostly what kept me sane during a difficult time. When last fall came, I was sad that the gardening season was over, but optimistic about the coming year.
Now the season I looked forward to is virtually done, and in some ways the garden has taken several steps backwards. There are several reasons it didn’t turn out as well, but none of them are really important. Well, maybe one: mosquitoes the size of crows.
As I look at the pictures by my desk, I have mixed feelings. First, I’m pleased at how good the garden looked back when they were taken. I’m also encouraged that next year can bring a Renaissance
I also realize that photographs aren’t always a true portrayal of reality. I’m pretty sure that these pictures I see every day intentionally exclude some spots that were far from perfect, and focus in on areas that looked especially good. It’s only human nature to do that, unless you’re an insurance adjuster or something.
Assuming more weeks of warmish weather, I’m looking forward to putting the flower garden and the vegetable garden to bed for the winter. Sometime in a few months when the snow blankets over the yard, I’ll start thinking about the new season and things I want to change or improve.
Gardening is such an apt metaphor for so many things in life, including life itself, because it can be measured in seasons, and each one gives us the opportunity to make changes for the better. And, like the rest of life, there are so many things a gardener can’t control, like heat, cold, rain, drought, and various insects and plant diseases. Even if you do your best, things don’t always work out well.
I’m not sad that winter is coming, if only because it is a necessary step in the progression to another spring, and the first intoxicating scent of warm, moist soil. Then the cycle of planting seeds, buying bedding plants, and pulling weeds will begin again. With hard work and some luck, it will again be a photogenic garden like last year’s was.