GardenRant welcomes its newest regular contributor – California-based garden designer Ivete Soler.
Since we don’t know each other very well, I am going to start my association with the venerable Garden Rant with a confession.
My house is the “Scary House”
It wasn’t ALWAYS like that. My garden was gorgeous! It’s been in magazines and books! My garden was in Martha Stewart Living for goodness sake!!!! People used to screech to a halt while driving by, park their cars, and ring my doorbell in the hopes that I might give them an impromptu garden tour.
Yea. That doesn’t happen anymore.
Now, people walk by my garden quickly, with their eyes averted, when before they used to linger and enjoy. They shake their heads, they cluck their tongues. “What happened?” they think – I can HEAR it, even though they aren’t saying it out loud.
“What HAPPENED?” well, frankly… life happened.
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Life can look like it is moving along swimmingly, and then suddenly, the rug is pulled out from under you. You are no longer on top of your game – you are too busy, your support system slips, there isn’t enough time in a day, or you just don’t have the heart. And something has to give.
For me, it was my garden. My guilt and shame looms large – almost as tall and overwhelming as the weeds that have overtaken the corners of my formerly glorious space. But what could I do? It was a rough couple of years, and I just couldn’t keep up with the high bar I had set for myself. Even the lower bar, the “practice” bar, seemed too far a reach. My wonderful outdoor spaces became an unkempt reflection of the state of my life – messy, unpredictable, and out of control. And although most things are coming back into my grasp, my garden still eludes me. As my most important relationship, this garden deserves more than a quick fix, she deserves the kind of care and clarity of purpose I am just now starting to feel capable of. It has been a long, rough road.
So as if I didn’t already feel bad enough, I go online and have to suffer through the chirpy, breezy, “Type-A” status updates and blog posts that are a daily reminder of how far back I have fallen. When do these people STOP? How is it that they always seem to have the time to garden – ALWAYS? And not just regular, garden-variety gardening – these people are engaged in Extreme Acts of Daily Gardening! I swear if I have to wake up to another installment of “Good Morning Gardeners! It’s 6am and I’ve already planted all of my winter crops and I weeded my acre and a half of paradise and espaliered my pear trees – now I am sitting on my patio with a steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee (that I grew, roasted, and ground), planning out the rest of my morning. I’m thinking about preserving the last of the tomatoes before I tend to the chickens and milk the goat, and then- off to work!… SO WHAT ARE YOU UP TO???”
I swear I want to grab the nearest hoe and flail around wildly until my weapon finds its target. Unfortunately, since my hoe is rusted and broken somewhere around the side of my house, I will only end up flailing wildly with my fists, and I’ll probably hit myself in the eye during this epic spaz-out.
Sigh. Am I the only one who feels like this? Surely life has gotten in the way for others? Does your garden look like you want it to, always? Is your guilt as great as mine? What with all of the external pressure the internet exerts, how can we NOT feel guilty when we “slip”? I feel like the cheerleader in highschool who let herself go. I mean REALLY let herself GO. The one who goes to the 10 year reunion with an extra 50 lbs and unfashionable hair, and everyone hugs her and tells her how great she looks, but they are really thinking – What HAPPENED?
Life happened. And sometimes the thing you love, the thing that has always inspired you and seen you through, fails you. So what to do? We get ourselves together, brush ourselves off, and when we can, when the universe finally gives us the metaphysical go-ahead – we start to cultivate. And as we cultivate our gardens, we cultivate our hearts. I am planning on healing. I’m open to the journey. And one day, on the other end of this path, if I am sitting on my gorgeously re-designed patio with my steaming mug of homegrown coffee surveying my corner of paradise, sending out a status update that cheerfully details the accomplishments of the morning – I’ll be watching out of the corner of my twinkling eye, waiting for a flailing hoe to hit me upside the head.