REMEMBER, NOTHING LASTS. I have mentioned this before, and probably will not shut up about it anytime soon (unless forces bigger than me silence me for good). Taking my instruction from the tradition of Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan, a reverence for the ephemeral nature of things, I mark each major passing in the garden, each fallen hero, and not just each arriving bloom. Recently it was the giant rhodie out back who said farewell for at least another year. To make its point, it drops its lavender flowers in the garden pool beneath, creating a serendipitous color play with the midribs of the Japanese painted ferns at the water’s edge. Nothing lasts, which makes it all the more precious, no?
Categoriestrees & shrubs
Welcome, Emilie, and I do hope very much that you will return. I am sorry if I have caused any offense, but I just mean these utterances like the one you cite as a daily reminder to myself not to waste time. I began learning that lesson in my 20s, when my mother, a widow in her late 40s, got early-onset Alzheimer’s and I moved back home to care for her.
My younger sister wrote about our journey through those years in the NY Times Magazine a couple of years later, in 1983.
I began my gardening life during her illness, ripping out the overgrown garden of my family home for occupational therapy of sorts, trying to find some peace. I send good wishes to you.
“. . . unless forces bigger than me,” Margaret? For shame.
Seriously, I came to you as well through Anne Raver, whose articles I always read, though this is the first time I’ve responded. Your story touched me deeply for a very personal reason in that, different as our lives must be, I have been caring for a much older husband suffering from dementia for the last three years. You will have to picture me sitting on our ramshackle back porch with a glass of table wine reading about you and thinking shortly after going over the photographic relics of our first year together with my husband of 35 years. Being his only directly related caregiver, I can’t say that I’ll be able to return. But I do want you to know how glad I am for you and Anne Raver.
I also preach the “nothing lasts” philosophy a lot–on two levels. Not only do I believe that when a flower has a short bloom season that we respond by paying more attention to them. But I’m also frequently surprised by people who buy a plant and expect it to remain the same forever; they buy it in bloom and expect it to stay that way. (I feel so sorry for people who buy potted tulips that have already opened. What are they planning to do with flowers past their prime?)
Plants are constantly changing, from season to season and year to year. What’s exciting about gardening is its dynamic nature.
With any luck they are going to plant them in their garden. But they’ll probably throw them out. Gardeners don’t do that.
A garden is a place to “be in” and in which to be; it’s not your local florist. I can count on the fingers of one hand the people who have seen my garden of 34 years and looked beyond the flowers, if they’ve looked at all. Those are the ones I feel sorry for. It’s all there for the looking, no weeds attached. Which raises the question, can we truly bond with somebody else’s garden? Are we merely on parallel tracks?
Thank you, Margaret, for your kind words. With any luck I’ll be back.
Happy to see you Emilie, anytime you want to stop by here.