This past week, I made a personal breakthrough. I got major help with the bulb planting. This might sound irrelevant or inconsequential to most but to me, this is huge. All of the years I’ve gardened, I have operated on my self-imposed credo – My garden, my work. This, in my mind meant that I ( and family) must do all the “real” garden work myself. I cannot recall ever reading or being told such a rule but somehow, it was branded in my head.

And for the most part, it has been more than fine. The early years were fraught with big projects. Making a garden from scratch required a great deal of time and energy. I went about it quite happily and it never occurred to me to do otherwise. Then, motherhood happened. That, naturally made me adjust to the new lifestyle but fitting my responsibilities into it was not really difficult. I weeded during nap time, occupied my child with play in the garden while I took care of daily chores and generally balanced it all reasonably well. The bonus was that I got to share my love of all things outdoors with my daughter. She observed and learned as children are wont to do. And then I got to give ( she’ll say forced) her some responsibilities in the ‘family’ garden. Ha!

However, in the course of those same years, my other interests and projects took off as well. Time was at a premium. Not willing to let any aspect of the garden give, I judiciously stayed super-organized and zealously stayed on top of all the chores. Actually, I did that with everything I had going on. I drove my family crazy on many occasions. However tired and over-committed I was, I pushed myself hard. I simply had to fulfill my own mandated list of ideas and jobs in the garden.

While I was forging ahead and succeeding in other endeavors, it was not only lack of time that lessened my gardening hours. The ugly head of Middle-Age reared. Aaaargh! Please tell me that you know what I’m talking about! The stiffness of the body on awaking each morning. The achy joints and muscles taking more time to heal. My knees and back are not what they used to be. Every task takes longer and some are downright painful. Yet, till this summer/fall, I persisted. Finally, the wisdom that comes with age (still middle-aged!) dawned. I needed help with the tasks.

First I had to reconcile myself to this notion. It was okay to have some assistance. Remember these lines from the song ‘Help’ by the Beatles:


When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way

But now these days are gone…. ?

Boy! Now I can truly relate!

I cannot imagine why I resisted so long. I think it felt that in getting someone else to do some chores in the garden, I was giving up autonomy or even saying I was not so capable. Yes, I realize now that it was all in my head and my thoughts were pure hogwash.

And thus, I got some good help with certain chores and got my 750 bulbs planted. I could not have got ready for 2 art shows and met some deadlines without that. There is no question that I’ll continue to work hard in the garden. It is after all my passion. But it is such a relief to share the work so I can focus on the other equally important areas of my life. Feels good to have finally wised up.

Don’t forget! The art exhibit at the Chappaqua Library is on till Jan 8. Do visit. A big thank you to those who came to the reception – I loved seeing you.

Given that it is bulb planting time, I thought I’d share images of bulbs in bloom to inspire. It is not too late to plant! –







(c) 2015 Shobha Vanchiswar


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