Monday, April 4, 2016

The Beauty in Imperfection

wild sage flower blossom

When I first started gardening some 20 odd years ago, I had no clue what I was doing other than a few pots on the window sill, little more than when we were in elementary school and started seeds in paper cups. So, being the academic type, I decided to learn from the experts. At first it was all PBS and Victory Garden, and subscriptions to gardening magazines. Then cable finally came to my neck of the woods where I discovered HGTV (Home and Garden Television) and I was hooked. Back then there were gardening shows with prominent, accomplished, and very English gardeners, taking you on tours of their always perfect borders and beds. All the planting was done so that as one season's blooms died back, the next would pop up as if on cue, and then the next and the next. First came the snow drops, then the pussywillows, then the tulips, daffodils and crocus, followed by lilacs, hydrangea, roses, etc, etc. Something was always in bloom, there was always color and, most of all, order. 

Alas, my first attempts fell way short of the standard I had laid down for myself. Then I began to pick my head up out of my own garden, and started looking at Mother Nature's garden. Along the river bank the pussy willows came out on cue all by themselves. Wild flowers of every kind, first purple and white, then pink, then yellow, all put in an appearance when they were ready. There was a profusion of color, greenery and beauty in the randomness of what, left to their own devices, the plants and trees had been doing quite successfully from the beginning of time. 

So, the following year, I waited to see what my garden would surprise me with. What would come up from last year, and what wouldn't? Where had the birds and squirrels dropped seeds and what would come up from their handiwork? Pansies bloomed in random abandon all over the yard. Blue bells and Queen Anne's Lace appeared in the barrels I was using as planters. It was lovely, and wild, and totally without order ... and it was beautiful. The annuals I added complemented the colors already there and provided a different look with each year's new plantings. It wasn't as perfect as the English lady's garden on TV, but to me it was the most beautiful garden I had ever seen. 

We are so hard on ourselves over what we perceive to be our own imperfections whether they concern how we look, where we live, how we dress, if we went to college, and if we are living by our culture's pre-planned design. Yet the beauty in each and every one of us is our uniqueness, our one-of-a-kind spirit and our overwhelming need to grow, expand, learn, and bloom. How dreary the world would be look if there were no wildflowers, no splash of color in our lives and no surprises in our discoveries. If it's the fear of not "fitting in" that keeps us from seeing the beauty in our imperfections, we need to take a page out of Mother Nature's gardening book and realize that it all works perfectly, both the weeds and the flowers, living in harmony. 

I cannot wait to see what pops up in the garden this year, or what new surprises will show up along the river bank. Whatever blooms this year will be just perfect. There are no imperfections in nature, and we are all as much a part of nature as the lilac tree or the pussy willows. You, dear friend, are perfect just as you are. 

And so it is.