Gardenias are so cliché they are almost forgotten. Their perfume, rich, almost too sweet if concentrated or captured outside of nature, is perfectly balanced when caught on the wind off the branches of its bush. The flowers are much simpler than I remember, actually closer to a wild rose. They need just so much sunlight, just so much water; too much or too little and they start to droop a little.
When I thought of them, images of southern ladies; powder slightly caked in the creases of their neck on a hot summer day, wearing dresses found in my grandmother’s attic, dusty from years of neglect and looked upon as forgettable, unwearable, passé; came to mind. Automatic thoughts told me I didn’t like gardenias or their scent when in reality, I’d never seen a gardenia in its natural form, knew much about gardenias, nor smelled a real gardenia, only some necromantic potion designed to fool the senses into thinking it was a gardenia. “Gardenia”, in my mind, was, in fact, only a symbol, not a true definition of a gardenia experience.
Browsing for plants to simply give cover to a sad looking garden area that would also allow me the least amount of weeding for the lowest amount of money with the highest amount of yearly come-back, I found a gardenia bush, an unknown, unlabeled bush, and a vining flower. Because they were unaware of what they had, the store gave me all three for the great price of ten dollars. Just happening to have ten dollars to spare (as if there is such a thing as spare ten dollars), they came home with me.
Tending to, nurturing, pruning, and ministering to these plants taught me that I do, after all, love gardenias. They are a forgotten beauty; delicate, forgiving, yielding so much beauty for so little attention. The feeling that came over me when the first bloom came open where I thought none would be this summer, was quiet and gentle and surprising. They are the small, crowning glory in my itty-bitty garden.
We tend to see and live through unspoken rules; to live unconsciously, subconsciously. When we begin to try to live aware, as fully aware as we can at any given place in our timeline, to the best of our ability at that place, we begin to find the gardenias in our mind. The cover is lifted, the painting suddenly moves and we realize it’s alive, not frozen in time and our world fragments into crystals. The beauty of knowledge is reflected off each shard, illuminating dark corners, casting shadows on others; our world is made more dimensional. This is true not only of gardenias but so many other areas of our living mind. Our gardenias are everywhere, just begging to be illuminated, watered, tended to and allowed to bloom for us.
Good gardening in your heart, mind, soul and being.