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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Island of Wonders (May 13, 2012)

In the middle of the city there is a secret oasis framed by palms, orange trees and tons of flowers. It’s my friend’s back yard. When you visit, it feels like you’ve left the city far behind. You’d never guess the freeway is only a minute away. The only sounds are the rustle of palm fronds, the chatter of birds, the buzz of bees and and the melodies of wind chimes. The scent of blooming roses drifts across the yard along with something else—an herb? Something I can’t place, but it’s good.

It’s spring and the garden is alive with color: red and yellow roses stand seven feet tall. The neighbor’s poinsettia and trumpet vine peek over the fence over a parade of calla lilies. Purple flowers and orange poppies sway in the breeze. A Camellia hedge quietly observes from her post near the wall. A volunteer avocado has begun to grow, just because. There are tangelos and oranges and a young apple tree. The neighbor’s palms and bird of paradise trees tower over this yard, creating patches of shade. Established fruit trees stand tall, like parents watching over the younger plants. In a few months the sturdy blackberry vines will produce heaps of berries. This garden seems to have every plant and color ever created, a rainbow of growth. It really feels like a paradise:

A few of us moms sat around an outdoor table at my friend’s garden get-away yesterday. I announced that I felt like I was on vacation, with the warm sun shining down and the palms murmuring overhead. Escaping to a beautiful place for a few hours, leaving the to do lists behind, gazing at flowers and trees growing—it is like sneaking away to an island where there are no stresses. It’s a break from the fast pace of life.

It’s Mothers’ Day (hi, Mom!). I’m appreciative of my mom, for many reasons. She and I share a love of plants and flowers. She and I celebrated Mothers’ Day last weekend and I gave her a plant. It’s a Wandering Jew, which is native to the Gulf Coast of Eastern Mexico. I’d never seen one before and when I decided to get one for my mom, I also decided that I should take a cutting from it for my own garden! The leaves were so striking—magenta underside! The hardy leaves have a thicker, slightly waxy texture that reminds me of succulents I love so much. I thought it was one of the most beautiful plants I’d ever seen:

Mom gave me a huge, potted red geranium (one of my favorite types of flower). They’re so cheerful and full of life. Not everyone wants to spend free time working with plants. But for those of us who do, it feels really good to grow things. Nurturing plants is a happy pastime, one that gives back to you, and beautifies the world. Since it’s Mothers’ Day I think I’ll thank Mother Nature for all her pretty flowers and plants! Mama Nature, how do you do it all? You grow things 365 days a year. You work hard 24/7 and you still look amazing. What’s your secret?!   

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