Gardens of Gratitude
Updated: Jan 26, 2019
Transplanted Peonies from my Dad's Yard decided to bloom
The weekend before we sold my Dad's house, I lay on the ground, sweat mixed with dirt covering every inch of my body as I tenderly unearthed my Mom's beloved peonies. I hoped that these 50+ year old beauties would survive the transplant to my garden. The next spring, they looked very unhappy, no sign of even a bud, so I gave them lots of comfrey tea, full of nutrients known for boosting transplants, and whispered words of encouragement. Like my Late blooming Daisy, they proved to be survivors thriving, and I rejoiced the following spring when the first buds began to appear. Then ants found them and I feared the worst, picking off ants by hand each day, until I did some research. I learned that the ants are feasting on the nectar exuded by the peony, but the ants don't harm the buds at all. In fact they keep other pests from harming the flower, protectors of the one that feeds them. The day those buds began to bloom my heart celebrated, bursting with gratitude that I was able to bring a treasure from my childhood home into my own front yard.
I began gardening the spring after my Mom passed away in 2006, as a way of moving through my grief. I started with a small circle of pansies around my mailbox, choosing pansies because my Mom liked them, but also because they are one of the very first flowers that can survive outside in early spring in New Hampshire, sometimes even before the daffodils and crocus emerge. Every spring since, I yearn for that first day of plunging my hands into the freshly unfrozen ground, planting pansies in purples and yellows, their happy faces greeting me each day from March into July. When the summer heat retreats in early fall, I plant another batch since pansies are also one of the last flowers to surrender to winter. My pansies usually thrive through most of November and sometimes even into December unless we get an early snowdump or temperatures in the teens. One winter, I still had pansies until they got buried under snow on January 6th! Pansy's stamina and fortitude inspires me to hang in when things aren't the best, and to face each day with courage, even if, or especially if, it could be your last. Pansies live life to the fullest until their their very last day, and I aspire to do the same.
Since that first mailbox memorial garden of pansies, I now have gardens all over my yard and most recently have started planting at risk medicinal herbs in our woods. I planted a memorial garden for my beloved greyhound, Tina, a survivor of heartworms & thyroid cancer who, like pansies, lived life to the fullest until her very last day. She loved running in the snow, so I planted her a Summer Snowflake bush, my first late-blooming Daisy. and lots of white pansies, crocus, and mums every year. When my greyhound Pulsar left us,
I knew his garden would be yellow, since his favorite thing besides walks and food, was lying in the sunshine. His garden 's center is a forsythia bush, with lots of daffodils and marigolds, and yellow pansies & mums. I have learned much about gardening from the plants, saddened at those who haven't made it , but rejoiced at those who've kept coming each year, bee balm and bleeding hearts,wild rose, chocolate mint, who tried to fill my garden bed and keeps trying to root himself back in, after getting transplanted to a pot.
Since late blooming daisy became my inspiration during my cancer treatment, I've noticed how during the toughest times of my life, nature has been there to comfort me. When my Dad passed away, it was mid-May, and my lilac bush which most years only bore a cluster or two of flowers, was absolutely full of blooms, bursting with fragrance. Every time I walked by, I inhaled deeply of lilac sweetness, and felt deeply comforted. When it was time to bid farewell to our first greyhound Pulsar, that week in October, the trees bore the most vibrant red and orange foliage that I ever remember, a soothing balm to my broken heart . The abundant gifts that nature freely offers are ours for the noticing, and appreciating nature's gifts heals my heart and fills it with gratitude. Connection heals.