When spring of year three rolled around, I was determined to make it work. Trying hard to analyze the situation, I thought perhaps years of salt from winter maintenance affected the soil, so I recruited my husband to help dig it up. We built flower boxes and filled them in with fresh topsoil. I ordered bulbs from a fancy garden website, followed the planting guidelines meticulously, and just like that, the problem was solved!
That summer, I tried not to be disappointed when there was little growth in the boxes. I told myself the bulbs just needed a season to root and we would have our picture-perfect curb appeal the following year.
Fast forward to year four, only 3 of my 15 bulbs bloomed, and my determination turned into obsession. I walked the neighborhood looking at what everyone else was growing, found the trends, and bought the same plants. I pulled every single weed that grew between them, watered aggressively, and took every wilted leaf as a personal sign of failure. Maintenance became an obligation and I felt guilty if skipped even a single day.
One particularly busy week, when I finally had a day off, the flower bed needed my attention. Out on the battleground at 7 am, pulling the intruders and pruning survivors, I wondered why this task felt like such a chore. I thought hard about why I wasn’t enjoying the experience. I’m a morning person who loves to be outside, my entire indoor space is filled with plants, so what was the problem? Was someone making me do this against my will?
As I reflected on these questions, it became clear to me that I had more control over this experience than I realized. It was my choice to take on this project and my frustration was simply tied to my lack of experience with outdoor gardening. I wasn't failing, I was learning a new skill. I wasn't pulling weeds, I was making space for a garden to grow. This simple shift in perspective transformed the task of maintaining the flower bed from a chore that needed to be crossed the list to a ritual I could enjoy and take pride in.
I did eventually get a few flowers to bloom and despite the many spaces that still needed to fill in, I was still able to feel a sense of accomplishment. I may never have that picture-perfect curb appeal but I know in time, I will create something beautiful and for now, that's enough.
In any given moment, I can find peace