Auntie recently sent me pictures of grandma’s and mom’s flowerbeds.
They are gorgeous. My English is too poor to describe the amazing flower fireworks these two women have cultivated over the course of the past eight or nine years, but I’ll try to give you an idea.
Rich and proud lilies and astilbes frame the yard. White hydrangea globes like magic Christmas balls cool the intense and colourful flower palette. Gentle labellias lean their shy heads over the hanging baskets. Elegant petunias fill up room between endless perennials. Decorative sunflowers flirtatiously wink from here and there. Magnificent roses of all possible colours and sizes proudly greet the bypassers from the front bed.
The yard is filled with blossom, and once one type of flowers is done the next ones take their place in the orchestra, turning the frugal lawn into an inimitably beautiful melody.
My flowerbed here is very different from the described above. I always have something blooming, but it’s just one or two lonely flowers surrounded by bare dirt. And even though I’ve been working on mine for quite a few years as well, it’s nowhere close to flourishing harmony and beauty. What’s the secret? I’m not sure.
My family bought the property where mom and grandma spend weekends now a while ago. It was owned by an old man who once used to love his garden and the greenhouse but was already too old to maintain it. To begin with, the land was pretty sad. Lots of clay. And the property is located in the low spot, so every year all of the spring runoff accumulates in our yard. Mom calls it her own Venice.
Back when we were looking for a summerhouse to buy, we didn’t care much about the quality of the land. We just needed a new project to keep grandma occupied and going when grandpa passed away after they’d lived together for 52 years. And this one came up. It was a convenient location and a livable house, so we took it.
The next spring, we realized how much work it would take to get anything growing there. Grandma first didn’t want to even start, but then the two ladies, each in her own manner, got into it.
Neither my mom nor grandma had any qualifications in farming, gardening or botanic. Mom is a chemist. Well, that was her degree, but she only worked accordingly for about three years. Most of her life she was in one or the other type of sales.
Grandma went to university soon after the Second World War. She thought she wanted to be a geography teacher, which was a needed and respected job then. But soon she realized that despite her love and curiosity for geography, she was terrified of children. She ended up becoming an engineer, which she was throughout her life.
After the ’90s, when gardens helped a lot of Russian citizens to make it through what pretty much was hunger times after the collapse of the Soviets, mom and grandma (who are in-laws by the way) both had some experience with growing vegetables. Grandma was gardening at a different cabin since 1993, but the land they had to work with before was nothing similar to that new clayish disaster we ended up with.
For mom, flowers were a hobby, but she never was too deep into them. So the two joined their efforts to fill the life around them with beauty.
Grandma's strong suits were love for order and interest in the dirt. I’ve never seen anyone fertilizing the land with such care and so precisely. She treats it as something alive (which indeed it is if you look deeper into it).
Mom in her turn loves flowers and she has a great sense of style. After a workweek on her day off, she still gets up at 5 a.m. to plant some new seedlings or bulbs. She always finds that missing note to add to their flower symphony. And even though these two very dear to me women are very, very different, their unique skills resulted in what I would call perfection.
And when I was looking at the pictures of the beauty they created, I started thinking about what it takes to come to that perfection. Some of us are blessed (or cursed, depending on the standpoint) with the light of a genius. But many beautiful and unique things are created by ordinary people, who, at first sight, don’t have any special talents in a particular area.
In most cases, our joint effort, the combination of the best in us, works together and stimulates the others' talents when we are trying to create something. And even if we are not pros in it, if it’s something we enjoy, our skills and talents always add to the beautiful human world mosaic.
And the pictures of the flowers once again reminded me how beautiful we are in our differences which add up to the unique palette of life.