Everything you ever need to know about life can be found in the garden. Patience, kindness, generosity and compassion are the virtues that are usually bestowed upon every gardener. It is that connection we have with the earth and all that grows from it that makes us who we are.
I mentioned in a previous article that I work for a church. Mine is a rewarding job and I love talking to all the people that come to my office who enjoy a long conversation about plants and gardening here in the low desert. It was during one of these conversations that I was invited to give a presentation for a small group at the church. I was bribed with a delicious meal which wasn't necessary because I love to talk about plants and gardens more than any other thing.
I knew my audience would be those aged 70 - 90. As such I wanted to focus on getting outside whenever possible to do something with the space they had. Gardening is such a great way to keep the mind and body active and as we get older, these are things that are integral to a longer, more fulfilled life. I sparked most everyone's interest because the questions started coming fast and furious. As I gave my presentation and answered everyone's questions, I could not help but notice one woman in particular. Her face was sad and tears were rolling down her cheeks. One of her friends gave her a hug and a tissue as she tried to regain her exposure so not to draw attention to herself.
After the presentation, it was time to eat and the conversation was lively. "I'm going to go to the nursery right after this to get some of those plants you just talked about." said one and "What was the name of the first plant you described?" said another. I intentionally sat beside the woman who had caught my attention and asked her if she enjoyed the presentation. "Oh yes, very much." The sad look once again came to her face. I asked if she was okay and this is what she said: "I'm sorry. You remind me of my late husband. He loved his garden so much just like you do. He was always outside doing something. All of his hard work paid off and his garden was so beautiful and full of color. He was always bringing me flowers. I miss that. After he died the garden just hasn't been the same. I try to look after it but I just don't have the strength and the energy to do it properly. There's the trimming, the weeding and the watering that needs doing and I just can't seem to get to it all. I bet your garden is so beautiful." I quietly said it was and I just gave her a hug.
We exchanged small talk for a while and when it was time to go I asked if perhaps she would like a hand looking after her garden. She just looked at me for a moment and said "Oh no, I'm sure you are a busy man." I said not too busy to help another. She smiled and expressed how wonderful it would be for me to come over. That Friday after work I went to her house and got to work. Weeds were pulled, roses were fertilized and plants were fed and watered. She asked for suggestions and advice on the types of plants she could use to fill in the gaps. Her garden was good size and there was a lot of room to be creative. Over time we created something reminiscent of her late husband's former masterpiece.
I have had more garden presentations since but now when I speak she is no longer on the verge of tears. In fact, she typically joins in and speaks of her own successes. In fact, all of the people present share their own successes and learning experiences (there is no such thing as failure) based on what we talk about.
This group has now become the official garden club for our church and we are a vibrant, active bunch who love our gardens. I am so thankful for the initial opportunity to share my one true passion in life with all of these wonderful people.
During our most recent meeting my dear friend presented me with a photo she took. The photo is of a very special rose that she and I planted together. This rose was a mere twig and with a lot of love, banana peels, coffee grounds and fish emulsion, this is what it has become. It is the perfect symbol of what one can do with a bit of kindness, patience and compassion.
Image of new plant and gardener are royalty free images purchased from www.istockphoto.com. The last image of the rose is courtesy of my dear friend.