Sunday Opinion: Perfection

I have become very interested in gardening in containers in the last 10 years; how enchanting to have the option of ignoring the demands of in ground cultivation. I like composing and planting them, even though I know my notion that I will have control over everything that happens later is an illusion. I choose the composition of the soil, the nutrients, the plants, the location that offers the best light.  I can water the pot as a whole, or I can water plants individually. I can introduce plants from South America to those from South Africa, and get them to thrive visually and physically, next to each other. Some containers I might plant with trees, or evergreens, or vegetables; others might have an aura of a roadside meadow. A container might have sculpture, mementoes, a banner-this in additon to the plants.  I might use a dead branch as a natural stake for a mandevillea. Some plants are old favorites; some are new to me.  Some pots I plant such that grown in, they assume a collective shape quite unlike their individual shapes. Some containers are breathtaking-empty.  Knowing when to stop, how to edit-this is an adult skill.

Relative to a plot of land, a container is small.  I am less afraid of a small failure than a big one-who isn’t? Thus I try things.  I am sure I have planted thousands of pots, and I am ready to plant more.  When I was young, I was sure that I would begin at point A, move to B, and shortly therafter, get to Z; voila-perfection. It never occurred to me to wonder  what I might do after that triumphant moment.   How embarrassing to recall having thought the world revolved around me. In fact,  I could learn new things about gardening every day-its a matter of making an effort to listen, and look-not a lack of things I know nothing about. It seems like new things appear to me at a faster rate that they did 30 years ago.  I believed that science existed perfect and entire-and therefore perfect understanding was within my reach. The more years I study, and add to my knowledge, the further I seem to be from a definition of the living world beyond its miracle.   Now I realize that perfection applies only to diamonds and moments. Not to my ideas, my knowledge, my efforts or my intentions, or my work.  I am relieved by this.

How grateful I am there is no best and perfect planting,  so I can go on making them.


  1. Your Sunday blogs are more inspirational than a Sunday at church. Your observations are a blueprint for life.

  2. Forgiveness. What a perfect way to spend a few Sunday moments (imperfect or not).

  3. I just love your blog. Thanks for a great treat, Deborah.

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