At the risk of disclosing how utterly gardening-challenged I am, I have some information to share:
I didn't miss the lilacs. They are blooming. Now. Oh, my, how glorious.
Today Beloved and I are going to plant her garden. She is known around these parts for her tiny, exquisite city garden, so well known, in fact, that she is on the "wedding circuit." Brides and grooms regularly come by with their photographers during the summer months to have portraits taken against the backdrop of her roses, snapdragons, sweet potato vine, ajuga, geraniums, pansies, and wave petunias. (There's more, but as I've said-- challenged).
Before my mother died she and Beloved became phone buddies. She regularly checked in with Beloved to see how I was-- was I working too hard? Were things peaceful with the ex? Was I happy? For Beloved this contact was warm and a little bittersweet. Her own mother was, shall we say, lacking in the qualities one normally hopes for in a mother (those beginning with basically giving a shit about her children). And here was this concerned, perhaps a tad over-involved mother who was suddenly a part of her life. She ate it up. She came to love her.
Just before the last Mother's Day of Mom's life she called Beloved to ask her what she should give me for Mother's Day. Beloved said, "How about flats of flowers she could plant outside?" And the day before Mother's Day a local florist delivered flats of Gerber daisies, geraniums and impatiens. And for the first time in my life I planted flowers around my house.
Each year since then I have bought flats of flowers and planted them, each time expanding the scope of the project. The first year I planted Mom's flowers in six large pots that I arranged along my driveway. The next year I added pansies which I planted in a strip of earth bordering my lawn, and added pots in front of my house. This year I have purchased snapdragons to border the lawn, plus sweet alyssum and lobelia to go all around my house, and also geraniums and wave petunias for the pots and window boxes.
There is a part of me that approaches all this with trepidation. I am not a good gardener. The attention I pay my lawn and grounds is spotty at best. But in the summer, when the flowers are blooming, I take such pride and joy in them. And this is a gift given me by Beloved and my mom. I probably would not have attempted them had these two women not conspired to give me something that would beautify my surroundings in an ongoing way.
I think in some ways I want to be more like Beloved, who is a natural and joyful gardener. Is this what love is, at least in part? Seeing something you admire and aspire to in the other, and hoping to move closer to that yourself? I don't want an award winning garden, or even brides stopping by. But I do want a home that gives me joy, and which surrounds me with beauty, and for which I can both claim credit and give thanks.