When I first moved into my own (just mine) house, I noticed that there were flower beds both lining the driveway and in various places around the yard. Growing up in the city, I knew nothing about gardening, but thought that the beds would look rough without flowers so I decided to learn something about gardening and plant my own.
I bought about 10 huge and very expensive gardening books (because that’s what I do when I want to learn about something) and spent most of the next few months going over them to learn about cultivating the soil, what flowers were almost sure to bloom and which ones would either be difficult to grow or take much loving care.
I spent a few years experimenting and discovered that plants and seeds I bought did not read the same books as I did as many behaved differently than I thought they would.
But I loved designing a garden.
I would spend all winter with my gardening books, looking at the beautiful pictures and sketching out ideas in notepads. I usually designed perennial gardens with plants that had different bloom times from early spring to late autumn and I would fill in the gaps with annuals. I would look at colors and heights and the likelihood of a plant or bush taking hold for good. Then the spring would come and the work would begin…tilling the soil, selecting the plants, planting and then throughout the summer carefully pruning and shaping and sometimes adding annuals where perennials didn’t bloom. In the fall I would plant new bulbs and cover my beds for winter rest.
One of the joys (or dismay) of gardening is discovering what blooms and what doesn’t. I would be amazed that some plants that were listed as sure things failed to grow in my garden and others labeled “high maintenance and difficult to grow” by all ten of my huge books would come up without much work and stay in bloom without much maintenance at all.
Some surprised me with their beauty and hardiness…and some would pop up as a surprise…I wasn’t quite sure where it had come from or even what it was…a random seed, a mislabeled seedling? who knew? but it was pretty and I enjoyed it all the more because it was unexpected.
All plants and flowers need the seasons and the cycles. All plants and flowers need specific amounts of acid in the soil and all need specific amounts of food and water. And much depends on where you live. In the Northeast I could plant perennial bulbs and leave them in the ground. But when I moved to California I had to dig up my tulips and put them in the freezer because they need a deep freeze to be hardy.
And so I noticed that like my journey in life, flowers need their dark time and their light time to bloom beautifully at the right time.
When it is a dark time in life, when there has been loss and sorrow, it is good to remember that life is a cycle and in order to bloom and grow we need the dark times, the restful times, the time to go inward and explore our own depths before we can turn our faces to the sun.
It is difficult to appreciate our ability to bloom when we are in the midst of winter but know that we have it, that we are able to do it.
We have to do our work, our work on ourselves, our grief work, our journaling, our meditation, our hibernation time.
There are books we read that we think are the solution and turn out not to be. We follow the advice of well-meaning family and friends and find it makes us feel worse. Sometimes we do something thinking it’s the sure-fire way to feel better and it doesn’t work and other times we assess something as too hard to do, but try it and it’s not so hard and it works.
It’s sometimes a complete surprise as to what blooms from what we plant. Almost all my clients are skeptical about affirmations and some say “I tried it for a few days and it didn’t work” even though both the book and the workbook and many posts on the blog say they need AT LEAST 30 days of saying several times a day to work. Then they commit to that and it works and then they stop doing them and start feeling awful and don’t know why. You have to keep shaping and pruning and caring for YOU through affirmations, acceptance statements, positive self-talk, journaling etc. You have to keep the work going even when you don’t see immediate results or you are not sure anything is going to bloom from what you are planting. What does bloom may surprise you in a pleasant way.
We need to do the work and will gain great rewards from it.
Trust the process. Believe in it always. You will not only reap what you sow and enjoy the benefits of what you have planted, but there will random and unplanned joys along the way. Do the work in the heart of winter and the spring will reward you with a beautiful bounty.