Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What I Have Been Blessed To Do

I am not a religious person, but very spiritual, and I have been blessed in many ways.  I have grown a lot in the last ten years.  I will not say I was led by God because that insinuates that I am special in a way that other people are not, that I received help while others still struggle.  I will say that I reached such a low point in my life that I questioned everything and listened to hear the soft voice that is patiently waiting in all of our hearts to lead us to where we are meant to be.

I left a bad marriage, began volunteering at a botanical garden where my skills were recognized and I was offered a job, I was referred to help others in their gardens and I eventually found love. Taking care of my Mom and Grandma eventually became a bigger job and I quit the botanical garden.  Almost a year ago to the day, taking care of Grandma became a 24/7 job.

In the last year or so I began questioning where I should be in terms of gardening.  Did I still want to work in others' gardens or devote all of my time to Jim and our garden?  Our time together on Earth is limited and we enjoy each other's company so well that it is lonely being apart even for a few hours.  Then came the gardening season of 2013 that I could not leave Grandma's side; I devoted myself to her completely at the expense of myself.  From time to time some of the ladies I work for would contact me, not so much to see how things were, but to see if I was available yet. At least that is how it felt from my perspective. Not my friends, just seeing if Grandma was dead yet because they needed my help.  I could almost hear the disappointment in one lady's voice. On May 31st Grandma passed.  I did a few little jobs, but after the five months of abuse I put my body through, I needed to take care of myself emotionally and physically.  Still feeling sorry for myself, I decided I was going to quit the gardening work.

I have read in a number of places that whenever you are recovering from something, building your body back up, you should expect to spend about twice the amount of time you spent abusing it. Five very long months of no more than three hours of sleep at a time, jumping up and running on an adrenaline rush all through the night, eating fast food or whatever other garbage I could grab in a hurry to keep myself going, and of course, the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one.  Six months later, halfway through my estimated recovery period, brought the Holidays and a mixture of emotions that were hard to deal with.  I was so far off track.

I do not turn the television on a lot and I am not an Oprah fan, but last week Mom found something called Super Soul Sunday.  I listened as I worked around the house and was occasionally drawn in by something a guest said.  One guest, Rob Bell, did more than draw me in, he inspired me.  He spoke of finding your true calling and of a man, a house cleaner, who felt he was privileged to be allowed into peoples' homes to bring them cleanliness and organization.  A bell (no pun intended) went off and that different perspective played in my head as I anticipated the 2014 gardening season.  How could I have forgotten that lesson?  I planned on tuning into the next Super Soul Sunday in hopes of more inspiration, and I was not let down.  There were several good interviews, but Marianne Williamson was just what I needed.  She said so many noteworthy things, but the reminder I really needed was that the more we give, the more we receive.  It is in serving others that miracles occur in our own lives.

I am an introvert.  I am more than content with my close little network of loved ones.  From my perspective, if people expected more of me socially, I would feel overwhelmed.  I was feeling sorry for myself and looking at the whole situation from a negative standpoint rather than the positive.  I have a gift.  I know plants, not just academically, but have the ability to make them thrive and love doing it.  I have worked hard and earned an excellent reputation.  I am honored that there are people who entrust me to work in their gardens.  To them it is a sacred spot that they spent many years, maybe even a lifetime, building and growing. There are few people they would allow to step foot in their gardens, yet they are eager, even impatient to pay me work with their most valued plants.  I enter 2014 feeling inspired to do what I have been blessed to do.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Great Point Experiment

I love garden experiments; when successful, they are amongst the most rewarding endeavors.  I have never bought Poinsettias ... too seasonal, too much work, not long enough lasting.  I had always tried to keep them going without success.  For several years I had one small, struggling stick of a Point that I had saved from the botanical garden I worked at.  Last year Jim bought one for the holidays that still looked fairly decent come spring.  I decided then to give them one last shot, something different than I had ever done.  Normally I would have repotted and fertilized them with minimal results.  This time I put them straight in the ground in an area they would have a decent chance in.  If they were still struggling as the weather cooled, into the compost they would go.  Though hopeful, I was nowhere near expectant of the results.

I cut them back hard before planting them in the ground and did nothing more.  By September when I potted them up, what had not been much more than a couple of twigs were the lushest two-feet-tall Points I had ever seen.  As the weather cooled, they went into the garage, the door being opened and shut morning and night for light.  Before the first freeze, they came in and were put into an unused room.  To make shuffling around easier and to protect the floor, they were put onto a wheeled platform.  To begin with we put them in a closet at night, but then I questioned the need for absolute darkness, especially when they did not always have a lot of light during the day.  On sunny days when we could have the front door (southern exposure) open, they were wheeled into the living room.  Special attention had to be paid to watering.  They needed a lot and do not want to dry out, but they cannot be kept soggy either.  Some of the inner leaves shed, but not enough to effect their beauty.

Another great idea is to cut the Point back to one stem and grow it into a tree.