Finding some peace in the garden


author: quinn bell | a&c writer

Springtime is in the air / Pixabay

Floral Conservatory gives much needed glimpse of spring 

I never knew that the colour green could bring with it quite so much joy. It’s been a hell of a tough week and an even longer, whiter winter; every sign of life right now is something to celebrate. 
I’m sitting in the Floral Conservatory. This is one of my favourite places in the city. It’s a place of rest, of colour, of humidity, of life — it’s everywhere. Bright yellow daffodils catch the light, and my eye. A long, soft fern falls among a bouquet of red and orange, looking effortless. Heck, I’m even smiling about the ants I see crawling about, up and down the tree trunks. I don’t remember the last time I saw an ant. Winter was too long this year. This is nice. 
This is a place of rest — usually. A wedding party has just arrived. I’ve been here maybe five minutes, taking in the calm, when bam! There are kids running all around my table. It’s photo time, I gather. It’s chaos, pure and unbridled. It’s the most annoying group of people I’ve had the pleasure of sitting with for a long time… and I love it. Every sign of life right now is something to celebrate. Even kids. (But would you please stop kicking my chair? Is it not obvious that I’m trying to write here?). Yes, even kids. 
Still, the plants alone would probably have been enough for me today. When have plants ever let us down? Sure, sometimes they die on us. But maybe there’s a lesson in that. Nothing lasts forever. We need to hold on to what we do have and let love grow. 
A poet’s dream, every garden has so much to teach us about life and about death. It can be as simple as realizing that every pretty green thing we see is thriving in dirt. That can be us too, maybe. Thriving in dirt. Or else in thorns, as blooming roses. Their delicate scent is recognized the world over, and adored, yet they grow among spikes. Some of us are living in even harsher environments, like cacti in the desert (see also: the succulents dying on my friend’s window sill, the harshest of environments imaginable). Even these will bloom eventually. Even in the arid heat, there are flowers. There are creatures there to enjoy them. There is beauty to found everywhere. There is survival. 
Then there’s the orchid. Imagine the most exotic and showy of flowers, treasured by so many for how they can light up a room. The orchid is, however, also one of the most fragile of flowers, at least for those who don’t have much of a green thumb. It requires right care and the perfect climate, and even then it might not make it through the night. The orchid is a reminder of the need to be gentle with our people, too, and to listen to each other’s needs. Some of those around us whom we see as the most put-together and strong can actually be quite fragile. The brightest lights around us can sometimes be the first to go. 
Especially here in the prairies, perennials, too, have a lesson for us. Each spring, after months of facing those frigid white winters, perennials thaw out once again. And again. And again. And again. Growing back to life every year, they should remind us that there is hope. There will always be some green on the other side of winter. There will always be daffodils and tulips, wet dirt, bird song, and ants. 
Spring is coming. Hang in there. If it’s not feeling soon enough, stop to smell the flowers at the Floral Conservatory. It’s free. It’s a place to regroup, to write, to draw, to take photos, to think and breathe. A place to be annoyed by a bunch of frickin’ kids running around. To smile again at the end of your difficult week and at the end of the winter. It’s even warmer there than it is outside. It’s even warm enough that you’ll celebrate stepping outside again into the fresh air. When’s the last time you enjoyed the fresh air? (Editor’s Note: Don’t call me out like this.) 

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