I also learned that landscaping is personal, and there is no right or wrong. Someone might hate the idea of a yard full of concrete baskets or garden gnomes, but you can't really say it's wrong, not in the same way you can say that it's wrong to spray your azalea with Round-Up to help it grow.
So now our utility room looks like this:
The streaky nature of this photo isn't artfully-captured sunlight; it's a streak on the lens.
We can pretend it's on purpose if you'd like.
We hired someone (Capehart Landscape and Design, in case someone in Indy is looking for someone) to rototill the area, put in the bluestone path, and spread a bunch of mushroom compost.* I didn't let them plant, because that's the fun part.
We bought a Red Dragon Threadleaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Red Dragon'), which will only get to 5' height and spread. Andrew and I have wanted a Japanese maple for a long time, but I never knew where to put it. I was so excited that I talked to it before I planted it, telling it how beautiful it was. I'm hoping the neighbors didn't hear.
I bought a ton of perennials at the IMA Perennial Premiere** and planted them last night. I still have room for lots of groundcover as well as some steppables between the stones.
This morning, I was contemplating that I feel good leaving lots of space between the plants. It's okay that the bed isn't done. It's more than okay--it's good to leave the plants alone and let them grow. They need time to spread and show me how big they're going to get, whether they like where they are located, and if they can get along with their neighbors. If I stuffed the beds full of plants, there would be no room for growth, no chance to make the space better, and I'd run the very real risk of hurting what I've planted.
All of that got me thinking: If room to grow is a sign of a healthy space, then maybe my incompleteness, my flaws and failings, are also signs of health. I tend to be very hard on myself, expecting myself to be perfect and well on the way to spiritual enlightenment. It is good to try to improve and make myself better, but I need to remember that space and room for improvement are not only omnipresent and therefore unavoidable, but also good.
My current state, right where I am with no qualifications, is beautiful. I have room to grow, and I'm at the exact place I need to be.
So say we all.
**I can tell you what they are, but does anyone care? I have no idea. I'm going to assume you don't. You can tell me if I'm wrong.