A few pages from an old design file. Old, I say, but actually not that long ago in the big scheme of things. Just a few years. I can’t believe even that much time has passed since the day I sat down to compile my “dream garden” file. I remember being so impatient. I wanted to buy flowers to fill every spot and the biggest version of every plant and tree we had plans for so that I wouldn’t have to wait to enjoy it all.
The olive tree I’m looking at as I write this was just a baby then. Now he’s so grown-up and mature, standing proud in the center of the garden. I really thought he might not recover when he lost several major limbs last winter. A rogue windstorm had passed through and it almost broke my heart when I walked outside and saw the damage he had suffered—My beautiful tree!
Luckily, I have the best garden counselor and steadfast friend a person could have—Alejandro—who assured me it would all be okay and quietly went to work clearing up the mess and tending to the injuries. Sure enough, he was right. In no time it seemed my olive tree was on the mend, sprouting new leaves and growing by leaps and bounds. One day I went out and noticed that his branches were completely full and beautiful again, not a sign of the tragedy that had befallen him. In fact, he had gotten so carried away he would be due for a trim soon. Alejandro always knows.
On that first trip to the nursery, Alejandro is the one who tried to tell me I didn’t need to buy so many plants. . . that they would fill in “very quickly.” But I couldn’t wait. I was bound and determined to have immediate gratification. Before I knew it, there we were having to trim back and eventually, even remove some.
I asked Alejandro if we could save the plants we had to remove (Could he take them and use them on another project perhaps?) but he said some of the root systems were too developed and it was impossible to save them all. I told him that he could have pretended that wasn’t the case for my sake. Like the family dog that has passed on and your parents tell you has “gone to live on a lovely farm.” He could have told me he was carting them home and would raise them as his own or some such softening of the truth. (Though I was teasing him, I genuinely felt sad and more than a little guilty.)
I often observe Alejandro when he is listening to me go on and on about this and that . . . Me insisting that we buy more plants than we need . . . Me lamenting over a bare wall where the fig vine hasn’t filled in or fretting about the top of the pergola I imagined covered in wisteria and said wisteria is still trying to find her way to the rooftop . . .
I see him listening to me. He always has the same benevolent smile. It’s the smile a guru has for his student—the smile of the seasoned gardener. The one who graciously allows me time to grow and mature. Though he doesn’t utter a word, I know what he is thinking, “Patience, my dear. Patience.”