When I was a child, lilies of the valley bloomed prolifically along the side of my grandmother’s house, tiny pure white bells hanging from enormous green leaves, a wild weed to some but loved by my grandmother and me.
Abundant iris and gladiolas bloomed in my other grandmother’s garden, tall spikes of purple and white iris and multi-colored gladiolas along the rock wall between our houses, blooms that became gifts to my childhood teachers, wrapped in wet paper towels and aluminum foil and carried proudly in my small hands to school.
Roses bloomed everywhere in my mother’s garden, pale and deep pinks, light yellows, brilliant reds, their fragrance wafting in the summer air and through the screen door of our kitchen.
I have no talent for growing and tending flowers. Dead-heading, watering, feeding are all sporadic activities for me. Yesterday just when I was awaiting the blooming of my climbing rose, I watched as a squirrel climbed the trellis and chomped off the lone bud as his breakfast.
My best success as a gardener requires little from me. Years ago my daughter bought me one of those blankets of wildflowers. I put it in the backyard, expecting little of it. I neglect it every year, and every year it surprises me with its abundance. There are white Shasta daisies and tall, spindly pink flowers, yellow buttercups, and blue chicory. They bloom in succession, new colors every few weeks throughout the summer. They spread from their origin into my neighbor’s yard, fortunately someone who loves them. Nothing holds them back. They ask nothing of me except my appreciation for their independence. They seem to have a gentle strength, a confidence that they will be there for me year after year.
They compensate for the once beautiful pot of white-edged deep purple petunias on my front porch, now nothing but a pot of green leaves. They make up for the hanging basket of deep pink impatiens, only temporarily in full bloom. They give me hope as I watch the squirrel chomping on the lone bud of my climbing rose bush.
Nature teaches us lessons. I like this one. Wildness covets neglect.