Friday, February 20, 2015

Understanding the Cost of Perfection

Recently I employed a grandson, who wanted a little cash, to do some "thorough cleaning".  I used to do this "thorough cleaning" twice a year; called spring and fall house cleaning back in the day.  After some neck issues a few years ago, my idea of "thorough cleaning" was no longer in the cards.  And so in walks a teenager needing work.

First off, let me compliment my grandsons who occasionally help grandma with these physical tasks I now find hard or impossible.  They do an excellent job with nothing more than initial instruction and they do it to the end.  All employers wish for this kind of help and I have them in the family – and needing cash.

And so the perfection thing:  My idea of "thoroughly cleaning" a room involves wiping down every hard surface:  ceiling, walls, woodwork, doors, light fixtures, glass, furniture (both top and underneath) and vacuuming every soft surface.  Putting every other fabric through a wash cycle if applicable and ironing and starching to prove it’s been done.  Yeah, I was raised by a clean freak and the dust settled on my genes.  This particular grandson was amazed at what this task entailed and I’m betting I either scarred him for life or implanted a few dust particles on his genes.

Now back to the cost of perfection.   Gardeners with the perfection gene can drive themselves crazy trying to perfection up Mother Nature.  Mother Nature never had a perfection gene; she has the wildflower gene.

Photos of gardens in blogs, books and online usually only show perfect: 
  • ·      Grass mowed to one perfect length. 
  • ·      Every edge trimmed perfectly sharp. 
  • ·      Not one weed. 
  • ·      All plants perfectly spaced with no encroachment on another. 
  • ·      Water features sparkling clean. 
  • ·      No ornament looking cheap, cracked, sentimental or garish. 
  • ·      Lawn furniture placed over perfectly maintained surfaces. 
  • .   Cushions and fabrics perfectly clean.
  • ·      Trees producing in the right place and right form. 
  • ·      Walkways smooth, unstained and perfectly clean. 
  • ·      Porches with no chipped paint, rotten boards, torn screen or baluster missing.
  • .   All Children and animals perfectly groomed and poised. 

Yes, this is the perfect world we will never live in and neither do most of the people in the homes and gardens pictured.  Unless heavily funded, these garden pictures are staged, photo shopped or one time experiences because real people and real gardens are imperfect.   Yes, the cost of that kind of on-going perfection is huge sums of money.  It either taxes our own physical well being or we're constantly unhappy with what we do have. 

If your idea of a garden starts with envisioning perfection, you will be disappointed.  And here’s the good news:  other gardeners are forgiving of imperfection.  I know of absolutely no seasoned gardener who criticizes someone for garden imperfection.  We all know the impossibility and have the aching back, ragged fingernails and lost dreams to prove that fact. 

Seasoned gardeners enjoy the fact you are so happy with something in your garden.  We are excited to know there’s a new generation of gardeners taking on the beautiful experience of nature.  We love your enthusiasm and new ideas.  And even for those of us whose nature cries out for perfection?  It may take all our will to not bend over and pull that little weed in your brick walk but we love it that you aren’t tied to that perfection ball and chain.  Go forth gardening friends and be perfectly happy with  nature in all its imperfect beauty.

Note:  All photos are mine taken at Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rockford IL in 2013.  By clicking on one picture, they will be large enough to see details.

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