On Gardenias and Other Supposed Lost Causes
H. and I bought four gardenias last year for our first full-time resident summer in Nashville, one for each corner of the area of the patio where we spend so much of our time. I planted each bush in a pot, and we excitedly waited for them to bloom. When they did, their sweet scent filled the air, and those of you who are flower lovers like I am know that just that little thing, a bloom, can change the tone of a day from ho hum to perfection.
We went on vacation during August of last year. Unbeknownst to us, we chose the hottest week of the entire summer to leave our beloved plants alone, and though we had a friend water once a day, one of the gardenias didn’t make it (when it’s really hot and sunny here we have to water twice a day, plus when you pot things instead of putting them in the ground they need more water because there isn’t as much soil to hold moisture… I digress… you know these things, don’t you?). I feared a second one had succumbed to the heat as well, but it had a tiny bit of life left — there were a few green leaves hanging on. Everyone told me to get rid of it too, that it was gone and not coming back. I didn’t listen. I just cut off the parts that I thought were dead and said a little prayer over the rest of the branches and kept on watering it as if it weren’t sick at all, convinced it would make a comeback.
Yes, I talk to my plants. One of my favorite things about summer mornings is getting up and communing with them, watering and telling them how well they’re doing and how pretty they are, before the sun gets bright. A few months ago, just after I’d gotten the garden planted, I noticed a lot of new leaves on the sick gardenia, and just the other day, lo and behold, a bloom. She’s still a raggedy looking little girl, but I’ve never smelled a sweeter smell than the one that her single bloom sent into the air.
This morning, as I took a stroll around the patio with the water hose in my hand, I told her how well she was doing, how well she had recovered, and how I couldn’t wait to see how much progress she’d make this summer. I thought about the other things in my life that some might think aren’t worth working on or saving. I thought about the things in my life that I have, begrudgingly at times, decided to tend to instead of throw away. And like that sweet little struggling gardenia, they’ve ended up being some of the very best elements of my life.
Don’t give up on something you love if there’s any life left in it. Talk to it, tend to it, water it, love it despite its flaws and struggles — it just might surprise you.
Peace and love and happy Wednesday,