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Time for a maintenance check-up

I was feeling more than a little frustrated on Sunday as I was dead-heading the peonies in my front garden. I noticed that the annuals I'd planted several weeks ago weren't looking great. The petunias looked a little wilted. The marigolds were sparse and a lot of the blossoms had already gone to seed. The lantanas hadn't changed at all, still spaced widely apart in anticipation of growing to six or seven times their original size late in the summer.

The weather's been weird. Maybe that was it. Hot, then cool, then rainy, then hot. I had watered. I had mulched. And it took me a long time to plant all those flowers, one by one. What if they didn't get going all summer? What if this is what my front looks like in July? In August? Augh....

Then, I caught myself. The peonies I'd been maintaining were planted 15 years ago had grown so big that I had made a mental note this spring to buy larger supports for them for next year. I was cutting off the remains of the blooms that had been glorious this year. Next to them were the Russian sage lavenders and they looked healthier than ever. The bees love them; they would be great by the end of the summer -- in size as well as in beauty and fragrance. And the red yarrow I planted last year is already full and tall and ready to bloom, and promising to attract butterflies.

And the rock garden in the back really looks great. And the two perennial gardens way up in the back -- in my meditation garden -- look great too. All the work we've done for the last 20 years has been quietly been "taking care of itself" all this season with some minor weeding and mulching. And it all looks beautiful. And I wasn't even noticing it because I was so annoyed about the annuals.

Sometimes, it's not about the thing you're working so hard on right now. Don't underestimate all the work you've put in to get where you are while you're focusing on the newest thing you've started. Maintenance can seem routine, even like a chore, but remember it's necessary because you've already done a ton of work. And sometimes, that's enough.

When the new thing is frustrating, step back and take a look at the big picture. And enjoy the view.

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