Sunday, May 5, 2013

I'm Not Her: Lesson from my Garden

Last year, we purchased a lovely larger home with an extensive yard, lots of garden plots, two water features- one being quite large with a small river and waterfall, and extensive border plots. Quite a few years ago, supposedly this yard and gardens was THE showplace of this small town. So many time's I've heard this referred to as "Arlene's Garden." And to give proper credit, Arlene did oversee all these gardens and kept them pristine and gorgeous. I've seen pictures; it truly was beautiful.

Fast forward to now. Arlene went to walk with the Angels quite a few years ago. These gardens have only received cursory care over the past ten years or so; and it shows. Most are overgrown and weed ridden. Pathways and borders have been overtaken by the lawn. Rocks coverage, is now weed infested and buried. Perennials & shrubs are badly overgrown in some areas. If you look long enough, you can see a shadow of what it once was.

And into this, I've now stepped. Me, the city girl, who is moderately frightened by nature. I see the beauty in it, but I don't necessarily want it to touch me. Add to that several other factors; I am old and fat with a bum knee, weak neck & back and a bum shoulder. I have a toddler who takes 110% of my energy when home. I have a full time job which requires often intense mental strain. And possibly my most fatalistic flaw, a perfectionist streak that frightens even me. I'm a firm believer that jobs should be done correctly, to full completion without stopping to rest until those goals are achieved. Like most of us, I am my own harshest critic.

Today, I really started on the clean up. Out of the approximately 25 beds, I've focused on one. Just one. I started my day thinking that if I can get this one bed back in shape, my day has been good and fruitful. But as my low back began to throb, my knee began to swell and my neck began to freeze, THE voice started in my head. You know the one; we all have it. The one that said, "Well, you're going to kill yourself on this one bed and there are countless other that look like absolute crap. You're such a failure at this stuff. You know this'll never look like how Arlene had it and everyone will know just how much you suck at this."

That voice is the killer of hope. The killer of the bright side. As my frustration grew, I just sat down on the grass and looked around. Really looked. It was then I found a small slice of peace accepting the fact that no, this will never be like Arlene's gardens will. Instead it will be what OUR gardens are. In our gardens, there will always be some weeds. There will always be some rocks out of place, possibly some plants that need watered. Likely a border that needs a good edge put on it and probably a dandelion or 20 in the law. Always something that we just can't afford to hire someone to do this year or have the time to do ourselves.

But what the Brouse gardens will have is a seat for very guest, a smile and a cool drink. I will always make time to enjoy a conversation with a friend or time to lay on the lawn with my son looking for airplanes in the sky. Hopefully the kitchen garden (which was once a beautiful flower garden that we'll be transitioning into something more useful to us) will always have cherry tomatoes to snack on fresh off the vine. And I do promise the pool will always be clean.

What I cannot and will never be is Arlene. Nor will my gardens ever be as stunning or beautiful as hers. You may have to look hard to find the beauty in mine, but it is there. I trust Arlene will understand; and I hope my visitors will too. Don't compare us; pointless to try. And please don't compare our gardens, because on that, she will always win. I graciously concede to her superiority on that front. Instead, come on over. Bring some wine to share, and we'll enjoy a lovely summer eve either swimming, chatting or just relaxing. If you see a weed, please pull it.

Below is today's success.


  1. Lori, I would love to come visit and share that cool drink. I am certain you are your own worst critic and I am certain it is beautiful. Enjoy will and your husband and maybe one day you will have time to dedicate to your gardens until then, RELAX!!!!..

  2. So much love. I don't give a damn what your gardens look like; never change!