I have lavender in front of my house. Not just one or two bushes that cascade in great waves of green and purple, spilling over the walks and the lawn; I have ninety-nine bushes, all blending together in shades from pale blue to the deep purple. Ninety-nine because one was lost. (Sorry no reference to a Sunday School lesson, it just gave up one year.)
When a landscape designer looked at our house and considered what I requested—I simply asked for lilacs—she gave me lavender. And spireas—golden ones and magic carpet, and bridal veil—more than 100 total in my yard, but not concentrated like the lavender. In the middle of the lavender, around my obelisk are weigela. There are other plants—all with a nod to a European garden, including lilacs—though an Asian variety that doesn’t grow too large. The lilacs and spireas are struggling right now because of a dry winter, but the weigela struggles because the lavender are blocking the sprinklers.
I tend to look past the weaker bushes (after giving them a huge drink twice a day now), and see only the magnificence of the lavender. Like narcissistic debutants, they spread their skirts without apology or restraint. And I, as a mere observer, am impressed and step aside. I gather armfuls, carefully clipping around the bees that come by the colony. I place the stems into buckets of water to be sorted into a wreath to dry for the front door, or into vases where, taken from the sunlight, they wilt in a matter of days. Meanwhile, the flowing plants brush the shoes of guests with their glory as if deigning to give a blessing. They scent the air with their intoxicating smell, and they add color to the concrete and rock hardscapes.
In life, there are people who are of the lavender variety. They are the beautiful ones who add wonder to life. We admire them even while we forgive them for their selfishness. Some copy their style, read about their loves, and talk of the day they met one.
Some resent the way the lavender gathers in all the water; they clip without mercy in editorial pieces, or mow over the flowers with pent-up resentful gossip. And yet, when we trim back someone else, we fare worse and the world dims to shades of gray.
All the same, I would just rather be an apple tree.