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Lessons from My Backyard

Yesterday, while I was walking in my backyard looking at bushes and thinking about fall garden clean up, I noticed my rosemary bush. The reason that I noticed it is because it is thriving, despite being overshadowed by a very big butterfly bush.

I am a fan of the underdog, the one who makes it despite all odds, the David to the mighty Goliath. That’s my rosemary bush. She is persisting, despite the obstacles. I did realize that I will need to cut back the butterfly bush at the appropriate time so I can help her survive, and thrive. But seeing her grow, despite the difficulties, made my heart smile.

She reminded me of the big sunflower that just happened to find itself in the gutter on the back of our house. She persisted, and grew to about 5 feet tall before too much sun, and too little rain took its toll. “Bloom where you are planted,” I thought. She certainly did.

I am a fan of the outlier, the one who takes a stand in the unlikeliest of spots, and thrives (at least for a while). That was my sunflower. I still miss seeing her. But she is also a reminder that the gutters need to be cleaned out—another part of fall clean up.

On my trek through the backyard, I stopped at my compost pile. Now I do not have a very scientific compost pile. It’s really just an area, defined by a wire fence that my daughter Katie installed for a project for AP Environmental Science when she was in high school. It’s a catch all for food scraps, coffee grounds, old flowers, dirt and the plants from the garden that have reached the end of their season. Right now I am watching a few avocado trees that are happily growing in the compost. I know they won’t make it through a North Carolina winter, but I admire their persistence and sheer pluck.

There are so many examples in nature of growth that happens despite all odds. I will never forget touring Dachau when I was a junior in college and seeing a small flower grow between cracks in the cement pavement. Beauty happens, the unexpected happens, growth happens—even when we don’t think that it could be possible.

So today I celebrate nature and the unexpected seed, in the unexpected place that yields beauty. It’s a reminder that we all truly can bloom where we are planted.


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