I hope spring is starting to make its lovely appearance where you are (or autumn, with the blessedly cooler weather, in the Southern Hemisphere)! Here in our little part of the Home Counties, just north of London, it’s very definitely spring. Sunny days, cold crisp nights, and the cheery brightness of daffodils!
Lots and lots of daffodils!
But like most things in the homes of people who’ve been married a while, those daffodils have a story.
Some couples are brought together by shared interests. Some couples are pushed apart by shared interests they have very different ideas about. That would be me and my husband when it comes to the garden.
Or it was.
His idea of a good garden is immaculately neat and tidy. When we married and I moved into the house he’d owned for eight years, the small garden was a bare rectangle of lawn. Mowed with military precision to literally within an inch of its life at the same time every Saturday afternoon. All edges trimmed precisely square.
I loved my husband. But oh, how I hated his yard.
Confession time – I am not a “good” gardener. I like a wild messy garden that thrives on neglect, bursting with food plants and trees and flowers and birds. I like plants that seed themselves and pop up where you don’t expect (some people call those weeds). Pretty much his garden room 101. We
argued over lovingly discussed making some changes out there.
It was the idea of attracting wildlife that swung it for him. That, and my promise that a prickly rosa rugosa hedge would be loved by birds and hedgehogs, but not loved so much by the neighborhood kids who rode their bikes across his precious lawn as a shortcut. He agreed – I could plant the hedge.
I did it in early winter, before the ground froze hard. Dug out a trench all the way along the boundary. Hauled bucket-loads of broken bricks and builder’s rubble from the heavy clay soil. Planted the roses I’d mail ordered, brown dry sticks a foot long. Hard to imagine they would grow, let alone flower. I got a bag of a hundred daffodil bulbs very cheaply, as the right time for planting them was long past. Poor dried up shrivelled things. In they went too, though I had no idea if they would take or not.
I put in so much work, and for the first two months, all I had to show for it was a foot-wide strip of dug over ground along the front and side footpaths, with sticks poking out every eighteen inches.
But Spring came, and we had sunny yellow daffodils. Summer came, and we had roses, white, pink, cerise, the scent attracting bumblebees. Fall brought fat orange rosehips, and birds to feed on the seeds. My husband decided this wasn’t too bad after all. He dug a small wildife pond. He let me plant trees, and a whole lot more.
He loves the garden now, happily spending an hour or so a day pottering around out there. He still thinks it’s too wild and messy. I still think he is too fond of straight lines and pruning so everything matches and cutting the grass too short. But we don’t argue over it anymore. We learned to compromise out of love for each other, because of the garden.
And those fifteen year old daffodil bulbs I thought would never grow just keep getting better and better. This year we have the most blooms we’ve seen. The hyacinths I planted last spring (they have a story, too!) flowered beautifully.
I needed spring to come. I needed those flowers to bloom. I was way behind on writing deadlines and had to shelve my planned spring book (about a couple who fall in love while making a garden!) until next year, because it wasn’t done in time. I’d despaired, because my health wasn’t improving.
God used the garden to remind me to keep hoping. What looks dead and shrivelled and hopeless will flower, in its season. He makes all things new. We just need to wait patiently through the fallow times.
And trust that spring always comes.
What does your ideal garden look like? One commenter before April 6th will be chosen at random to win a copy of A Lesson in Love, last spring’s book (LOL, also about a couple who fall in love while making a garden!) , or their choice of my ebooks.