A Love for One's Garden Casts Out the Fear of Bees

I don’t have acres of lovely, planned, planted things. I have about twelve to sixteen feet of shrubs and flowers that I specifically chose, carefully laid out, arranged, and then planted by myself with nothing but a shovel. Then I mulched it all. It is my butterfly garden, and at its widest, it is only about six feet. But it is a twelve-to-sixteen, by six feet, undulating little patch of color and beauty. I designed it. Other than that, I have a strip of daylilies, some berry bushes, a patch of cherry tomatoes, a few tenderly nurtured hydrangea, and pots of “stuff” – an eclectic mix of everything from tomatoes to ferns, all in pots.

Compared to the gardens that belong to the “veryCALM” woman (please do follow her blog link – you’ll find it to your left, and it is top notch!), who tends to her acres of English-like gardens, and her meticulously restored 18th century home in upstate New York….compared to her, I don’t have a garden. Her gardens reflect such skill and artistry, and her writing is refreshing.

But a garden is not an issue of comparison, it is an issue of what you plant, and how hard you work to nurture it. If you have planned and purchased, arranged and planted growing things, even a few, and you tend to them with love and sweat – you have a garden, and you are a gardener.

You can’t know how I savor that concept. I sit and tell it to myself sometimes. “You are a….gardener. You….are….a….gardener.” For some reason, that fills me with wonder. It edifies me and gives me a firm sense that I am on the edge of accomplishing so much more, in this, the second half of my allotted portion of days.

I’ve collected only a few titles in life – all of them based on what I do, every day. All of them based on what others respond most to, in my life. These are the areas in which others will come to me with questions. No title is based on what I want to do, or based on what I wish I could do. I've not earned any titles by being in competition with anyone else, wanting whatever title they have. My various titles flow from who I am, at the core, in secret. And there are only a few of them. Mothers mother. Writers write. Gardeners garden. Bible teachers soak in God's word, and unconsciously "leak" it. Teachers teach. I’m not willing, right now, to call myself a “chef”…but I cook, every day, sometimes several times a day – and I create my own recipes. I’m changing. I’m growing. I am learning new stuff – hands-on, creative stuff. How glorious! Eventually, whatever I do “all the time”, with any reasonable sense of mastery, I can own the title to it.

I noticed something this morning, as I was out pulling weeds. The very thing that makes a butterfly garden attract the butterflies, is the very thing that attracts….the bees. All my life, I have been nervous around bees, and I have studiously avoided them. If one circles me when I am sunbathing, I’ve been known to go inside. But. My shrubs and flowers are covered in dozens of bees of varying species and sizes.

I found myself at ease with the whole lot of 'em. I…was….working…among…them. At peace. I found myself enjoying their sound. They would fly right over my head, in front of my face, and all around me, as they went from place to place. Even a few months ago, I would have suppressed a nervous squeal. Rather, I was inhaling the faint scent of crepe myrtle, pulling weeds around daisies, and thinking about how strong the fragrance of blue salvia is, when you brush by the leaves. (Oh how the bees love blue salvia!) I came to the conclusion that the fragrance comes from the fact that salvia is in that “sage” family of plants. It is a “sagey” smell.

Perfect (mature) love really does cast out fear. I love my butterfly garden, and truthfully, didn’t mind sharing the joy with the bees. I guess we’ll continue to work together out there until first frost.

It doesn’t make me a bee charmer YET, but it does make me (finally) a real gardener.