Lessons from the Garden

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Among my perennials, several plants worry me each spring by not showing up on time.

That is, they don’t show up when I think they should;  I fret that they must have frozen during the winter and won’t be returning at all.

So when one of the tardy ones shoots up green leaves, I rejoice over finding the lost sheep of the garden.

A few days ago, on the summer solstice,  I celebrated new growth–finally–of the Yellow Butterfly Vine (mascagnia macroptera), which I had planted last fall.  It really looked as though the freezes of winter had killed it.  It is supposed to bloom from May to September, so showing up on June 21st is arriving a bit late to the party.

butterfly vine, leaves appearing June 21

Here in the Texas Hill Country, I’m pushing the northern limits of Pride of Barbados (caesalpinia pulcherrima).  I’m always afraid this one won’t survive the winter; it may die in temps below 18 degrees F.  Its lovely leaves started poking up through the soil on May 27th  this year, a bit later than its expected mid-spring appearance.

pride of barbados leaves

For the same reason, I’m perennially (pun intended) concerned about the Esperanzas (tecoma stans), whose common name means “hope” in Spanish.  They always arrive later than their neighbors, and I’ve gradually learned to expect this from them, much like knowing certain friends usually show up ten minutes later than an agreed-upon time.

And as I would human friends, I always forgive them their tardiness because I love their unique beauty and the name esperanza.  They were late this spring, but now, as shown in the photos at top and below, they’re blooming with the vigor which illustrates the reason for their other common name of Yellow Bells.


Isn’t that the way with hope?  When it seems too late for hope to bloom, that’s when its leaves show beneath our feet.

I assume it’s following the pace of nature.

Writing Practice:

Complete the following:  When it seems like it’s just too late ________________.

In what ways do you have to adjust your expectations of the pace of things?

7 thoughts on “Lessons from the Garden

  1. Chris,
    Thank you, Dear, your essay is especially timely because I have been tussling with those twin devils Expectation and Impatience. You’ve reminded me that even though our desires may show up later than we wish, they are not really late at all, merely blooming on their time, not ours.

    • It’s a constant battle with those two little devils, isn’t it? At least it is for me. Thanks for your comments and for reading and encouraging me. How lucky I am to have your friendship.

  2. Nice, Chris! I remember as a young gardener (my Mama was great at it and I wanted to follow in her footsteps!),I used to get so anxious come spring when I’d be waiting to see what plants survived our usually mild Houston winters. Mama would say, “Well, if they don’t come up, plant some new ones.” Eventually I realized that this was good advice for so many things in my life…new endeavors, relationships, work, play. Many thanks to my wise Mama and to you, Chris~!

  3. Love your photos of hope! I recall a spiritual I heard once at the gospel tent at jazz feast. Something about not getting help when they prayed but “help came right on time”. I think about that at times when the universe is not running on my agenda’s time schedule and try to remember things come right on time whenever they show up, from flowers to people. It just was not my plan

    • Thank you, Linda. Your spiritual reminds me of my favorite lines from the “Desiderata”: No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. The world operates on a plan much larger than mine!

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