Learning to Appreciate What You Have

I bought a lovely, new patio pot to put in my garden beside a path. It’s a deep, emerald green, and it’s finish makes it appear wet. It gives a cool, refreshed feel to the otherwise dry flagstone of the path it lives by. I had big plans for this pot. It was to be a great focal point in it’s intended location.

On a Saturday, I purchased all the plants I would need to fill it, and I couldn’t wait to get home to put it all together. I chose many succulents and some drought tolerant plants as well. Lately, I have been fascinated by the colors and textures that desert plants offer, and I have also been thinking a lot about working with the environment I live in rather than trying to transform it into something else, which leads me to a recent moment of clarity.

Green Santolina. This character was to be the height in my arrangement, and also a burst of color. I understood that it features small, yellow flowers which last from summer to frost. Perfect! I placed it in a prominent position, added the rest of the cast of characters and stood back to admire my creation.

All there was left to do was wait.

One day I wandered outside to find the beginnings of flowers. They looked like tiny, yellow sponge cakes. Much like the center of a daisy without it’s petals. I always get so excited when plants are in their beginning stages of bloom.

Oh! The possibilities! What will these beauties look like when they open up?

Well, I’ll tell you. They didn’t open up. They stayed that way until they were spent and dried up. When I removed them, more tiny, yellow sponge cakes arrived to take their place.

What did I do wrong?

Not enough water?

Too much sun?

After a bit of trial and error, I decided that either my plant was defective, or I had done something to ruin it. Better luck next year.

Later in the month I rose early to go on a garden tour at a large public garden. I was admiring the variety and arrangement of their plantings, taking pictures and writing down ideas to take home when I stumbled upon a large mass of Green Santolina. They looked so beautiful all together in this garden; each of them covered in tiny, yellow sponge cake-like blooms.

There was a plaque in the front of the flower bed which read: “Southern France sub-shrub with aromatic foliage and yellow button flowers.”

Yellow button flowers.

You mean, they are supposed to look like that?

I took several photographs of them. As I looked through my lens at their beauty, I felt sorry for thinking of mine as defective. How could I? Just look at them… finger-like leaves holding up little offerings of sweetness to the sun.

How could I have missed it before? I should have appreciated them for exactly what they are instead of pining for what I thought they should become.

Originally published at findmeaning.net on April 7, 2015.