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Report From PIA – June 30

The day couldn’t have been more perfect, and before I get to the heart of today’s post I must thank those who said you were readers of this blog and listeners to GardenLine. One delightful woman told me that I was on her “bucket list” as someone she wanted to spend time with. I am humbled by your interest in what I do, and appreciate it beyond measure.

Moving past these compliments, however, the day made me think about enjoyment. This was sparked by several people who remarked that the gardens take such involvement that I must never just sit back and enjoy what my husband and I have created. “I take pleasure in these gardens every single moment,” I said to all.

The work involved in making a garden is effort toward creating something beautiful, and even the physical efforts result in rewards. Weeding, for example, brings me in intimate contact with the plants and the critters that claim them as home.

Gardening is putting together color, texture and shape, and this is satisfying, even when it involves ongoing labor. And unlike some artwork, a garden changes over time and this can be delightful, interesting or demanding, but never static or boring. Arranging plants involves all our senses and intellect too, so all in all, even when things go wrong, it’s a totally rich experience. Enjoyment all around, I’d say.

Extending this into the rest of life (this is Whole Life Gardening after all) is where it gets more difficult. It’s relatively easy to enjoy all aspects of the garden: plants don’t talk back or behave irrationally. And despite the title of Amy Stewarts wonderful book, Wicked Plants, for the most part they don’t harbor evil intentions. Not so with people.

Cultivating our lives outside of the garden demands all of our patience, faith and forgiveness. When those run out, or don’t apply, we’re called to move on, put aside, or take action and all those might require such effort that enjoyment doesn’t even enter into the equation.

Today I had the full spectrum of pleasure and annoyance. I moved from greeting friends and blog-followers, to the satisfaction of being in a well-tended garden and then on to coping with extremely irritating family members.

Here’s what I take away from the whole experience: that the garden reminds me that there are ways enjoy even those things that require hard work. That I may not always understand how to carry that understanding into the more emotional laden human interactions, but that at the very least, knowing that I am able to take the long view in one area gives me hope, faith and a righteous goal to work toward.

Two of the most asked about plants on the garden tour today were the Salix 'Hakuro Nishiki", underplants with 'Asian Artistry' day lilies, and the tall yellow Verbascums, of which I grow four species. The Verbascums require more effort than most want to put into their gardens since they are biennials and need to be started from seed every year. As the response to these plants indicated, they are worth it.

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