Every morning I wake up a little bit earlier than everyone else. The first thing I do after getting the coffee going is look out the kitchen windows at our work in progress.
Our outdoor space is not expansive. Our only outdoor furniture is a picnic table we scored from the local swap and sell Facebook group and some chairs we trash-picked at one point or another. There isn’t a patio… yet. And because we are still early on the journey of reworking our space into the small oasis for not just for us but other New Jersey natives like birds and bees and butterflies and beetles, it sometimes feels like just about all of our plants are hanging out at the groundcover level.
It’s a reminder every day for me, a less patient person than my husband, that it’s important to appreciate the beauty in things that take time. To save money and experiment more, we’ve started most of our plants by seed or plug.
The rhododendrons we planted as part of a screening strategy from the unsightly, never-ending construction of an old garage-turning-“pool cabana” (says the zoning notice) that butts up to our property are certainly growing but still remain only about 3′ tall.
The big blue stem covering the perimeter of a fence blocking the other neighbor’s yard just barely surpassed 5 inches this first year, and many of the seeds within our meadow were still in that first “dormant” phase, hopefully working hard below the ground to establish their root systems. And that darn redbud we planted last year when Mae was born, which has a lovely mix of yellow and Granny Smith green leaves at the moment, is still just a tiny version of its future self — a strange element of the landscape to anyone who sees our backyard. Our plan is to remove a very old and broken concrete driveway next year and focus on plantings around that tree.
The whole thing can be downright trying at times for an impatient person like me. But I know that with time, this vision we imagine and work toward will come to fruition. We’ll have all of those layers in my mind and on our scribbled plans, and the whole thing will be made sweeter knowing what it looked like at first and how it’s changed from season to season.
In the meantime, I’ll keep relishing those small moments like when our Black-Eyed Susans popped up the first year as our daughter was learning the word “flower.” I’ll know that there will be many rewards for us and the littler wild animals, such as when the shining seed tufts of the little blue stem grass just outside our back door popped up in a pinkish hue just before fall.
And as Tim and I keep working toward this bigger vision together, we’ll all enjoy the feelings of triumph when we successfully rip up yet another piece of lawn to make room for native plants in a variety of colors and shapes. It’s a process I highly recommend for the most impatient among us.