Thursday, January 28, 2010

MEME 7: Plant Flowers

Let me share with you what I am learning ....

I am not a gardener.  To me it is one of those things that if I am going to get into it - I`m going to get obsessive compulsive about it - so I don`t dare start.  I`m funny that way.  Jacinthe, on the other hand is content to putter and dig in the dirt, and swear at the slugs and plant - replant - transplant - nurture  - water - coax - and pull the weeds.  Also - right now, my asthma kicks in from the mold and spores and fungi in the dirt. If you can't breathe - you can't garden.  Or praise the gardener.

I am a great admirer of beautiful gardens.  When I was a child, my mom kept beautifully manicured flower beds, as well as an extensive vegetable garden.  She came by her talents honestly - my little Scottish grandma could put a dead stick in a pot of soil and make it flower.  She once grew a 500 pound pumpkin.  My paternal grandparents also gardened- both vegetables and flower beds - I remember nasturtiums and gladioli and a rock garden with hens and chicks everywhere.  There was a bleeding heart plant by the back door - so I have one too, thanks to Jacinthe paying attention to the meandering stories of my childhood.

Flowers bring people together.  The neighbors routinely stop to chat with Ms. Pouce Vert  as she is doing what she loves to do - getting her hands in the soil and making things grow and be beautiful.  She encourages me to cut a few blooms and take them to work - but I hate watching cut flowers die, so I prefer to leave them in the garden for the bees and butterflies.  We won't even get into the environmental hazard posed by the commercial cut flower industry - but we all remember the first time we ever were gifted with flowers, I bet.  Mine was a rose bowl for a piano recital.  Ah, the 60's.  Everything was much simpler then.

Jacinthe is starting to talk about swapping seeds - or bulbs - or seedlings  - or cuttings with other friends that are also avid gardeners.  She is inspired by the gardens of friends - and we routinely stop the car when we drive past a particularly amazing display of gardening prowess - there`s one street just off Academy Road where two houses are having a Floral Feud - seeing who can out-landscape the other in the style of rambling English country garden type flower explosions.  One of the competitors has expanded their garden onto the boulevard, complete with a 4 foot white rabbit statue wired to the stately elm.  I think they win, but I`ll keep going back to see what happens next.  We aren't the only ones who stop by.

This makes me think of flowers and weeds.  A rose bush in a corn field is a weed, as much as a dandelion in a rock garden is also a beautiful plant in the wrong place.  Flowers simply bloom where they are planted -whether it be from seeds or bulbs.  Seeds can be carried on the wind, on the fur of an animal or the cloth of a coat, left behind in bird or animal droppings (seriously) - or planted meticulously one at a time in a prescribed and prepared place, then nurtured into growth.  Bulbs, like seeds, are a "plant now and enjoy later" proposition but often need to be planted the season before they are expected to bloom, and sometimes come up when there is still snow on the ground.

Where you are in life - do you plant flower seeds? Do you plan your garden of thought? Deed? Words? Do you leave behind a legacy of beautiful memories?  Are your words and deeds the seeds of encouragement, strength, insight, beauty?  Do the bulbs of your interactive garden push up through the chill of inclement weather to brighten the day?

Too often, we sow seeds of doubt, fear, distrust, dislike - the weeds in the garden of the soul.  Our minds provide fertile soil for the seeds of negative self-talk and recrimination and blame to take deep root and grow wild and drive out the more delicate beautiful flowers in our mental garden.  We leave unwanted seeds behind us, masked as fertilizer, clinging to the cloak of memories, buried in the fur of past monsters that have not yet been locked into the closet - and these weeds find such sustenance in our human nature that they thrive and choke out any positive life affirming growth in our garden.  Sometimes - they have thorns - with which we hurt ourselves and others.  Sometimes there isn't anyone to help pull them out.  They fester until something beautiful and loving withers and dies, and no amount of rain (tears) or sun (love) can bring things back to life.

We also leave the gate open - abdicating responsibility, inviting the careless to trample the hard work of others or our own labors of growth and creation.  We forget to walk on the paths, not on the carefully seeded lawn or the raised flower beds of accomplishment.  We grind beauty - truth - care under dirty boot heels and act surprised when the gardener smacks us with a rake and asks us what the hell we were thinking.  Oops. Sorry. Careless me.  Was that fertilizer I just stepped in?  Smells like it.

I realize that this is a wide digression from the community building thought of planting flower gardens, to share beauty and energy and life force.  My mind wandered into the metaphor - and it is just as valid, I think.

There is a saying - "Bloom where you are planted" - which is true.  But we also need to allow ourselves to be pruned by loving and careful hands to encourage new growth, more blossoms, and to keep us from tangling with bad companions who are planted in our emotional neighborhood.  We have the choice in each moment to plant  a flower - pluck a weed - shore up a weak branch - nurture a fragile blossom - and leave a seed or two to germinate later in the season.

We also need to ensure that we provide fertile soil for the seeds of others in our lives - to accept their prodding (done with love), their weeding (ouch! I liked that bad habit) and the calling of a spade as a spade - not a digging instrument of the sexton's persuasion.  We need to walk carefully - and make sure that our own paths are clearly marked, so others don't accidentally cause us harm because we didn't make our boundaries clear.

Plant flowers.  Real ones.  Soul ones.  Nurture them.  Weed them.  Watch for slugs, and those persistent little bugs that just suck the life right out of you.  Make beautiful bouquets with great variety, riotous colors, intoxicating scents and share them with those you love.  As the seasons change, turn the soil, plant bulbs for spring, and put down the compost to make all things new.

And remember to give thanks to the Great Garden - Mother Earth - for all her creations.  The beautiful - the thorny - the hard to grow - the ones that run wild.  Especially for the rosebush in a corn field.  Enjoy its beauty.  Plough around it if you can.  It might be me.  Or you.  Or even - all of us.

Enjoy the day,

PS:  if you are enjoying this series - please consider doing a couple things that all boil down to "let me know" - write a comment on the blog with your thoughts - friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @suhurrell and let me know via those channels what you think.  I appreciate the comments I have received so far - and your thoughts mean the world to me as I explore these ideas.  Let me know if you have shared these posts with friends or family and what they think.  I'd appreciate the feedback.  Thanks!


  1. We've been talking for a while about putting in a little garden with some veggies and some flowers. We also want a small bird sanctuary (that would be well protected from the cats, of course). That will have to wait, unfortunately, until we sell our current home and find the next one.

  2. Try container gardening - that way your plants can move with you - and you can do some herbs and even salad vegetables. Thanks for the comment - and here's to a beautiful garden full of birds and butterflies in your future!

  3. I'll look into that. Fresh herbs would be quite nice, and the cats would probably love some oat grass and catnip. Thanks for the idea!

  4. I absolutely love reading your blog, Sue. It never fails to stick with me, gives me something to mull over as I lay quietly before sleeping or during my work day the next day. Can't wait to get togther for Gelato and discussions of a house blessing!


  5. Thank you, Andrea! I am so glad that my meanderings speak to you in some positive way. I have been a delinquent blogger of late - and need to get back to my Meme Series asapossible. And YES - gelato & Houseblessing!