park bench in spring

The gardens have been beckoning. They are quiet but stubborn in their insistence that we come into them and get to work. There are gates and  paths and a contrast between weeds and plants, tended and cultivated and neglected and overgrown, and these realities speak loudly even as they do not speak at all. So into the garden we go.

There are new gardens and old gardens and everything in between. The new gardens are those which we have just begun. There are few unplanned features. The borders are all neat and the weed barriers and mulch in place. The plants are relatively small and untested by the seasons. The flowers, on those plants that do produce flowers early in their lives, showy but sparse. Time and weather have yet to test the hardiness of these gardens, and their full potential is not yet evident.

The old gardens have seen better days. Overgrown with too many volunteers and untrimmed shrubs and vines, the old lines between plantings have long since disappeared.  The volunteers and self-seeders have reached areas not anticipated. The mulch has turned to humus and every wild seed has taken advantage of the remaining fertility. What began in sun is now in shade, and the new challenge is not only to put things back in order, but to find new plants suited to the new environment. Still there is a lushness in many of the plants that begs for pruning to bring out the vigor and the blooms. There is much of value in that old space, in spite of the unkempt appearances.

Somewhere in between is the time we usually prefer in a garden. The original plans are still in place, but unexpected changes have brought delight and surprise. Colors, textures and aromas abound. The intensive work first required to prepare the ground and plant the cultivars and specimens has given way to a more relaxed maintenance and a wait and see attitude about some of the growth that may occur.

I suppose these different gardens with the rooms that they occupy in any given yard may yield some messages that take the shape of metaphors, parables and allegories, but I am happy to observe and enjoy and to enter into them with the different demands upon the gardener that each requires.

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