The persistence of living things

IMG_0053When I moved into my home some years ago the small garden in the front of the house was full of blooming plants and flowers — roses, calla lilies, hosta, azaleas, and a host of other growing things I didn’t know by name. An ignorant first-time gardener, I was thrilled to prune the flowering plants and put vases of color all around the house. But I was also confused by all the little green things that were growing up in there, and I weeded without knowing what I was weeding, so some of those beautiful plants failed to appear the following year, but the weeds thrived.

In the third year some thistles found their way into my tiny garden and, because I was working at a distance and was almost never home, they managed to take over and thrive. Soon the azaleas were dying, the large bushes were being invaded, and the loveliest of the flowers were choked out entirely. The roses were so deeply rooted, and I pruned them so ruthlessly, that they kept growing in spite of the assault — even the thistles couldn’t stop them. But everything else was dying and the garden was fast becoming a bed of thistles.

I waged war. I had a landscaper tear out all the weeds, lay down plastic , and cover that with mulch. The thistles came back with a vengeance. I tried to weed them out again, but they were too fast-growing for me. The flowers all died and the bushes languished (but survived — barely), and the thistles grew. Next the man who mows my lawn came to me and said he couldn’t stand looking at the mess, could he try to get rid of them? So he too weeded them out, laid down more plastic, and more mulch. The thistles came back.

Finally, my neighbor was chatting with me one day and we both looked down at the sorry mess of a garden bed, and I was embarrassed, and he asked if I wanted his son to try to get rid of the thistles. I jumped at the offer. So my neighbor and his son pulled up all the weeds, brought out chemicals and sprayed the whole garden to kill whatever was left, laid down plastic, and more mulch. It looked bare but clean over the winter. Then Spring came.

I noticed that the thistles were growing again. I was on the verge of flooding the bed with pesticide and digging all the soil out so I could try to replant in some future year — but life won out in spite of me! The thistles grew up through the plastic and the mulch…tiny flowers

but this time so did the calla lilies that I hadn’t remembered were buried there, a lone remnant of the hosta that had been pulled up long ago, now bushy and lush, some myrtle and sundry other small growing Spring flowers. The azaleas are gaining new strength, and the lovely yellow bush is bushier than ever. I pulled the few thistles I saw, and when I went out to pull them again the remaining few had withered and died — but the flowers are thriving.

So I am in awe again of the miracle of the power of life. In a world where everything is supposed to be moving toward dissolution, life keeps re-emerging, beauty keeps surviving, living things are incredibly persistent! Isn’t it wonderful? Don’t you just love it?

I know I do. And I’m loving my quirky little garden again.

Author: Linda Robinson

Writer, sketcher, Christian contemplative, concerned citizen.