Life is messy, isn't it? Generally I like my environment tidy and organised, I like a peaceful life, but life is for living, for growing, and nothing that grows avoids mess. Just think of babies and toddlers-absolutely messy. I cannot make a beautiful garden without being willing to get messy. I can't make art without willing to get messy. I can't write without being willing to get it wrong over and over. Let's stick with the gardening metaphor for a minute.....
When I had a garden there was much I did that was by choice, and in my control. I poured over garden books, catalogues and magazines. My garden was an artistic expression in design and a plant lover's expression of appreciation in that most plants were carefully selected. I didn't just plant a rose, I chose a certain variety for colour, scent, vigour, and I placed it carefully for optimum conditions and for it's appearance in relation to the plants around it. I loved the dirt and the spiders and the fresh green leaves of spring, the old seed heads in autumn, the anticipation in winter and the abundance of flowers and bees in summer. I enjoyed weeding and pruning and general maintenance though the really heavy work of digging deep holes, carting around barrows full of mulch or compost was too much for me. The joy was in the doing, the being immersed, the progress, the mess.
I drove my ex-husband crazy because after having gone round and collected the detritus I would miss a pile of debris after a day in the garden, or I would leave a trail of tiny bits clearly showing my travels on his nicely manicured lawn. I let my plants sprawl over edges. Gardening was a joyful, messy procedure for me and so is life. I never left my garden alone and said, 'ah now it's finished.' I moved plants, divided plants, thought up a new colour scheme for a certain corner. I had failures and successes. I was in control of much but definitely not of everything. There were slugs and deer and rabbits. There was weather. There is always weather. There was my chronic illness which was diagnosed after I had created an enormous garden. Eventually I realised I had created a beautiful monster. I wanted to scale it back. reduce to my favourites, make it lower maintenance. I even considered getting rid of all perennials and just keeping my multitude of beautiful trees and mixed shrubs. My ex- husband, who had some issues with control, said no. I couldn't do it without his help and the help was withheld. It was not because he had better things to do or the job was too hard, but because he said he liked the garden. Then came the time when I left him. The last thing I had to face letting go of was my increasingly chaotic, untended but beloved garden.
Six years later I have no garden but I have approximately 45 house plants and a good ten more plants on my balcony. I'm still experimenting with what grows well and what I do and do not have control over. The greatest challenge with the balcony garden is very wet winters and very dry summers. My old garden, where my ex husband still lives is a disaster now. Untended it runs amok, and I face it frequently when visiting my son who lives in a basement suite of his father's house. I look at what I still think of as 'my trees' and 'my rhododendrons' and sigh a little to myself and then do what I always do. I put one foot in front of the other and I keep going, sometimes going squelch in the mud. Things are messy. Not everything is in my control, but whether or not I chose to find happiness in my life is very much something I have control over.