Grief in the Garden

We have quite successfully banished grief from our lives.

Dying proceeds in hospitals. It leaves no lingering trace in the pristine spaces of our homes.

Death is sometimes marked in an old-fashioned way. We do occasionally carve the same old stones. Though the ancient words requiescat in pace have been abbreviated and largely limited to Halloween décor.

But then we follow the trail of job offers and changes of scene until the grave stones that matter, the ones we still see with our mind’s eye, lie miles away. We cannot bring flowers. We cannot bring our children and tell them stories of the one we knew and loved.

But somehow grief still finds us. It winds its way in on unexpected paths. And in unexpected places.

For instance, the garden.

An old tree falls, and we are surprised, embarrassed even, by our tears.

We learn practical gardening techniques, and give them misleadingly neutral names like layered gardening or four seasons gardening. Now, we cheerfully interplant our tulips and daffodils with shallow-rooted perennials. See! What fun! You and I need no longer be assaulted by the dying bulb foliage. Death is always camouflaged by the next blooming plant.

Always there is the next thing. We need never look back. Daffodils! Then lilac! Then azaleas! Then roses! Now hydrangeas! And daylilies! And late-summer dahlias!

There is no need to mourn the passing of the daffodils.

But if the gaps still find you … If the empty space in your flowerbed haunts your sleep even in the midst of summer’s blooming bounty … well, the horticulturists can help.

They have tinkered and fiddled (plotted and potted), and now you can purchase the solution to your sorrow.

Every plant now has its reblooming variety.

Reblooming lilac. Reblooming azaleas. Reblooming roses. Reblooming daylilies.

Dry your eyes. Take up your nursery catalog. Look for words like boomerang and knock-out.

Because even in the garden we need never say goodbye. We need never sit in quietness waiting for the return of every beautiful thing we have loved and lost.





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