Thank-you, volunteers!


I spent today in my garden.   It has been a stressful, unhappy few days, and my crazy quilt perennials are the least expensive and healthiest therapy that I know of.  So I turned compost, spread manure, planted tomatoes, thinned the hostas, and weeded everything in sight. I got out my trusty cordless trimmer, reveling in its powerful noise as it drowned out my thoughts. I trimmed every stray blade of grass I could see.

At last, covered in sweat, dirt and squashed mosquitoes, I stood back to survey my work.  Everything looked pretty good, I have to say.  The iris, standing tall and proud, the dainty pinks at their feet.  The peonies are just about to burst open, and the rhododendron are absolutely breathtaking this year. (I’ve heard that snow is good for them….it must be true!)  My eyes dropped to my daisies.   H’mm.

The daisies stand (or droop) in the middle of the flower bed.  I looked at them, placing a hand on one hip to rest as I gazed at their sunny little faces. What to do about the daisies?

One spring, years ago, I bought a large pot of relatively expensive “Hybrid Shasta Daisies” and planted them in this general area.  They stood ramrod straight, with large, uniform blooms, for one full summer.   They were gorgeous!   But the next year? Nothing. They never even came back up.  I  felt like a failure, believing that the soil of my garden was simply not hospitable to them.

You should know that when I got married, in the summer of 1978, I carried a bouquet of daisies, the most summery and simple of flowers. There were daisies on my veil, and on the hem of my dress. I love daisies!  To find that I couldn’t grow them was a blow, and brought a real sense of failure.

And now we come to today: I stood on my walk, looking at the large clump of daisies that is in full bloom in the very spot where the “store bought” version had failed to thrive.   These daisies were not bought.  They were not specially bred and designed to look fabulous. These are wildflowers.  They are here because a seed blew into a spot in my garden where the soil was just perfect for daisies.  They are “volunteers”!  Every year they come up, and they open their smiling faces in my garden, offering themselves up with no expectation of praise. Every year, the stems of these blossoms start out straight and strong, but as the days go by, they begin to bend and twist and form little corkscrews.  They are not perfect, by any means.

And that, my friends, is exactly why I love them so.  As I sit here now, I am looking at a pretty blue vase filled with twisty little daisies and a cluster of “bridal wreath”.   Gorgeous!

So thank-you, volunteers, for reminding me that gardening (like life) is not about perfection.  It is about seeing an opportunity and grabbing it.  It is about doing your best to bring happiness and a smiling face to every situation, in spite of imperfect soil and weak stems.  

Thank-you!

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