It happened again this morning!
Has it ever happened to you? You go outside, having carefully looked over your garden the evening before, and suddenly there is this new flower. In my case, it was a rose.
I would swear on a bumblebee’s bottom that there wasn’t so much as a bud on that rose bush last night. Today, a whole new flower smiling at me.
I didn’t see it developing. I didn’t spot the bud when it was new and tiny and then watch it, as I usually do, fattening up, showing colour then – pow! – blooming.
This perfectly beautiful orange rose bloomed all on its own without my permission or my assistance. I don’t know whether to be thrilled or annoyed. After all, I’m in charge of this garden, aren’t I?
It’s me who plants, waters, fertilizes, weeds. So I’m in control here, am I not?
I’d like to think so, but in truth I know I am not. No gardener, not even the most anal, is in control of their garden. You can plant flowers in straight rows, instantly root out every weed, prune to exact specifications. Still, the heat of summer, cold of winter, lack of rain will confound you, along with their allies in your defeat – moles, mildew and the neighbourhood cats.
Yes, you can mitigate and you can encourage, but you cannot control.
Think of all the invisible micro-creatures in your soil. Millions, maybe billions in your patch alone. Are you going to harness them? Are you going to direct their path in your garden? Can you even point the spider to where he should weave his web?
Yes, you could wreck the spider’s web if it is inconveniently placed. You could even kill the spider (although please don’t – I’m just being rhetorical here). And you’d have the situation under control – until the next spider came along and saw the possibilities of that prime location.
Your garden with all its flora and fauna might look better with your guiding hand. Maybe people stop and admire it, maybe it simply gives you deep satisfaction. Yet we gardeners will do well to remember that we are working with nature. This is a partnership, not a relationship where the gardener is boss and nature had better shape up.
Because nature will frequently give us more and better than we deserve. She will give us serendipity plants whose seed blew in from who-knows-where. She will give us a beautiful orange rose that we never saw coming.
If we give up our illusion of control she will reward us with serendipity.