I design and build gardens for people. It is a dream job in many ways – the ability to use as your palate beautiful plants that will evolve and grow each year.
As a result of this vocation, people often want to talk about plants, and get ideas on which plants are the “best”. Of course, as with most things, “it depends”, right?
Each plant brings its own particular beauty, expressed in many different ways. Some plants compliment one another, some will always clash. Each has its own “hardiness” for cold, or heat, or sunlight, or shade, or soil, or moisture. And of course, they each have their own “ugliness” too.
Right now I am looking out my office window at the purple Delosperma that lies drooping over my rock walls. It looks brown and dead – starkly unattractive really as the Colorado springtime is exploding in the garden around it. However, I know that by the time that June gets here, those ugly masses of drooping brown will have transformed once again into beautiful bright drapes of purple and green dressing-up the granite walls.
So, I accept this little period of ugly, knowing the beauty that is to come once again.
Our relationships with others are like this too I think. Perfection is pretty hard to find in anything – particularly in people it seems. I know that the gap between me and anything approaching perfection is too great a distance to see on the clearest of days. So, the people who are my friends, family, lovers, or whatever, must have decided that even though I have my seasons of ugly, the beauty and utility that I offer makes the ugly season worth overlooking. No accounting for that…
What is it that makes this possible – this ability to overlook the ugly season that a person displays in order to see the beauty when that season is upon us? I have to say that when I am gardening, there is truly some level of connection that I have with the plants that I put into the ground. I know that plant, and I know its many phases, and I know what it is finicky about, and I know that if I treat it right, and place it right, and assure proper care, that it will – once again – wash the garden with the beauty that I know so well.
My friends are like that too I think. It is that connection that you develop with a person that allows you to rest assured that you understand the balance of beauty and ugly and utility in this person well enough to deal with them, and to help them grow as they are meant to grow. The tighter and closer the connection is, the more in harmony we become with each other, and the thing that once seemed only ugly, can now become balance and harmony.