There is a bumper crop of gardenia blooms in my backyard — the perfect ingredient to cultivate my leadership well-being. This heirloom species is one of the reasons I wanted to purchase our house. Their lush, white petals and intoxicating scent uplift my spirits. This year’s bounty is a testament to the resilience of the shrub and the care and feeding I have lavished on it over the past sixteen years. It has been skewered by ice and snow storms, riddled with white flies and thrips, and defoliated by scorching heat and winter burn. In turn, I have hired experts to manage pests and fertilize and I’ve pruned it relentlessly. This is truly a five-star season.
I start and end each day in the garden, taking in the fragrance, snipping more blooms and snapping photos. I fill up vases and place them all over the house. I take bouquets to meetings, give them away with abandon and invite friends to harvest their own. There is great pleasure in handing off these gorgeous gifts that are both precious and fleeting. In the next two weeks, the petals will turn yellow, then brown, then fall to the ground. The pests will most likely return as the summer heat bears down and drains the moisture from the soil. I’ll hold onto my fragrant memories and revel in this scent of well-being. And patiently await their return next year.