Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sometimes Even I am Left Speechless

My friends say that my personality is "animated," and as you might have discovered from reading this blog, I tend to go on about certain topics, and often venture off into thirty or forty different directions. Sometimes even I can be rendered speechless.

Yesterday afternoon I was doing some volunteer gardening for the Cobb Master Gardeners, at a place called The Center for Children and Young Adults. In a nutshell, it's a residential facility for kids (ages birth through 17), most of whom are from abusive or neglected backgrounds; as with most government facilities, they get "less than nothing" from the state budget, so they are hugely dependent upon donations of goods and services. Since 2001, Maureen Locke and Toni Moore (two amazing women and fellow MG's) have been working away there to develop gardens and gardening programs for the kids.

I had agreed to do the containers for the summer, including a number of pots that have been donated over the years, and a big fountain in the courtyard that no longer works or really holds water. I came with a somewhat disjointed collection of what annuals could be scrounged and what was in clearance at the garden center, intend upon making something presentable from the lot.

When I arrived, I met a young man who lives there, who wanted to help. Like lots of teenagers, he was fairly reserved, and it took some coaxing to engage him in conversation. We worked side by side for a while, me asking questions and him giving one word answers. I was careful not to pry, since I am clear that this young man has probably lived a life that I can only imagine.

Then I asked what he wanted to do with his life, and he said he wanted to be a landscaper. When I asked, "Why?" his face just lit up, and the tough guy persona disappeared in a flash.
He responded with, "Because the world is plain and not always pretty. I don't know why anyone wants to live with plain. I want to help people make their lives happy and beautiful."

In this young man's hands, the motley assembly of plants truly became beautiful; he placed each and every plant with such care, getting up a few times to stand back and view the large fountain from the angle visitors and residents of the Center would see it. For the rest of the time we worked, we were in sync, as he quietly questioned his choices of plants and looked for reassurance.

I have the pleasure of working in some pretty fabulous gardens on a daily basis, and am always aware of how lucky I am to do what I do for a living. I must say, though, that the defunct fountain filled with "step child plants" is one of the most beautiful containers I've worked on this season. I can't wait to see how it fills in over the next few months. (He is going to handle watering and maintaining it).


  1. i've been guest blogging on ilona's garden journal, she is a friend from 6th grade,
    and i have enjoyed the reunion. however i have
    branched off into my own blog, i called it
    switchbacks, since i see that you say you
    follow the same sometimes crooked path.
    i getto the point,often via many tangents. nevertheless i climb the mountain.
    just a comment, scattered is just what multi-
    tasking does to your brain. have ywet to find myself speechless.
    keep up the good work with young people; they
    have become so lost from the natural world,
    and we all need it so badly.

  2. What a great post. It good to be reminded of just how powerful this passion can be in some people's lives.

  3. That's so amazingly cool. I wish I had had a passion for (or even passing interest in) gardening when I was that age... And what a nice way to express his passion. Hope you can get the photo.

  4. That is so wonderful! Great story. What a blessing the MG's are to do so much for these children. You bring beauty into their lives. You may have changed that boys life by engaging him in conversation about landscaping. Makes you feel good to go out and do for others!! Have a good weekend, go out and get dirty

  5. An inspiration to us all !
    What a wonderful choice that young man has made, he saw the true beauty in the flowers, and despite a broken world, a little tender care and appreciation, can once again, make it whole.
    You have such a wonderful outlook on life !

  6. I agree with Les. It is rare that you see young kids interested in gardening or landscaping or least I rarely do.