I had our neighbor and her two small girls over to see the backyard garden this evening. The azaleas are done (and nothing can take their place in terms of lighting up the yard), but overall the garden looks fairly reasonable. The dogs were, as always, desperate for attention, which rather spooked the girls.
The elder child, a self-described insect-lover, actually found a woolly bear chrysalis in a small pile of debris that included its castoff skin.
But despite the yard looking fine and the thrill of finding the chrysalis, as I showed them around all I could see were the "flaws" of the garden from the perspective of the owner of a manicured yard.
I am upset with myself for this. I have delusions of teaching others to live in greater harmony with the natural world, yet make myself ashamed of my own yard where I practice what I preach? Why should I feel obligated to live up to their standards of "cleanliness" when I know that those standards are false and are part of what gets most suburban dwellers into the soul-less chemical and sterile hell that constitutes most yards?
On the other hand, there is nothing like inviting guests into the garden to make me really see the dewberry I haven't pulled up yet, the bare ground that still needs mulch, the overexuberant Artemesia and Aster that needs to be contained and/or removed, and the myriad of other projects that I just haven't gotten around to yet.
The garden doesn't mind the incomplete projects but, despite myself, I do. At least when I have guests....
Suddenly the light is going on! These were guests that I wanted to impress positively with my gardening philosophy. THAT'S why I'm so bummed at myself. If I'm going to "convert" conventional gardeners, I have to meet their expectations, at least in part, as well as my own.
Well, the plant sale will be done in a week, and I will be able to concentrate on my own priorities instead of my volunteer responsibilites. I must admit that I am more than ready to shift gears.
On a more upbeat note, yesterday morning my husband replaced a birdhouse that had lost its floor and by yesterday evening the titmice were already checking it out. That would add a fourth species of bird nesting in or around the yard!