This Garden

Yesterday afternoon,  I filled a tall glass with ice cubes, and poured hot mint tea over top. The crisp pops and snaps made by the fissuring ice sounded like a promise – a refreshing moment soon to be savored. Taking the drink in one hand, I used the other to pull up the latch of the screen door and swing it open. I wanted to enjoy the last half hour of the Saturday sunlight.

My husband had just finished watering our garden and the spicy smell, unique to Yucatan, floated up from the soaked red soil. It swirled around the leafy orange tree where my chair waited. But before settling down, I picked my way around the perimeter to check on the plants’ progress and wellbeing.

Every year I try coaxing a few non-native species to adapt to life in the tropics. The success is spotty. In this hot, humid climate, they struggle – much like many people I know. The magnolia bush has not budded yet this year, but to my surprise, the dusky blue pom-poms on the hydrangea seem to be holding up. They bring forth memories from the garden I knew as a child – my mom had banks of them along one side of our North Vancouver home. The baskets of multi-colored petunias are thriving but the poor tulip – a gift from my daughter – has completely given up. So sad.

Meanwhile the endemics are thriving. Lilies – the deep coral-colored ones, the white with red stripes, and the delicate-looking ones with long skinny white petals are in full bloom. The Desert Rose, Crown of Thorns, and red hibiscus are also flowering at peak this March. The magenta  bougainvillea spilling over the top rim of the high front wall is a prolific marvel of nature. Basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano aloe, lemons, figs and oranges are as delicious as they are pretty.  But the showpieces of our garden are the orchids.

Orchids are amazing, and most of ours have made their home in the branches of the very tree where I sit to drink my tea.

This garden soothes me and helps me put problems into perspective. I vow to spend more time out here. Life is too short to dwell on issues that are (fairly or unfairly) beyond my sphere of influence.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Reinhold Niebuhr

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4 thoughts on “This Garden

  1. I remember those blue hydrangeas on West 28th.
    I also remember that heavy, awkward moving machine that your mother had on Vista Avenue in Duncan. It was so hard to manoeuvre under all her flowering plants to reach the edges of the grass. I hinted about getting her a svelte electric one when we were staying with her. She caught on too quickly, and would have none of it. She liked her moving machine despite its being bigger than she was.

    Spend more time sitting under the orchid tree – it’s good for you!

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    1. Mom always said that gardening (actually it was landscaping) was her substitute for going to the gym. And she sure could lug a pile of rocks, bedding plants or whatever in her wheel-barrow. You give good advice Auntie Alice, I will spend more time under my tree hung with orchids

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  2. Hydrangeas resonate with me, too. They lined the side of our brown clapboard house at the Jersey Shore in the 1960s and 1970s. I’m excited it’s possible to have them in Yucatan, but we already have a memento from that house. The hanging light in the main house master bath was taken from its front porch before we sold it. The new owners never missed it, but I have a nice souvenir for the house named for the Shore house’s previous owner.

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