Delicate and white, jasmine flowers are highly fragrant. Their small size belies their intense perfume. It only takes two small blossoms to fill a large living area with their heavenly scent. With flowers sometimes hidden behind leaves, it is comical at times to watch others try to find the source of the sweet aroma when they enter the room.
I was blessed with the gift of a jasmine plant from two former garden society volunteers. We three had made our yearly trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to visit Flowerland, a nursery and garden center there. This day trip was the highlight of late spring when the demands of coordinating the care of the grounds at St. Francis Retreat Center were secured. It was also the week preceding my birthday.
We had walked about the garden center and made our way into the greenhouses of exotic and common houseplants. The rush of warm, fresh humid air blanketed us as the glass doors were opened. We had not been in there long when I inhaled the sweet scent of something wonderful and, turning to one of the ladies, our Master of Houseplants, exclaimed “What is that fragrance?” She nonchalantly replied that it was a jasmine plant and, trying to hide her sheepish grin, led us to the far corner of the greenhouse where they were growing.
The lovely little shrubs had shiny, slightly puckered ovate leaves with dozens of nine-point open-faced blossoms bursting from the tips of branches. I was taken by the simple beauty and heady aroma. Our trips always included my birthday gift from those two friends, and this plant was the gift for that year. I joyously selected a modest 6-inch potted plant and placed it in the child seat of the cart.
For the rest of the day I was surrounded by its lovely fragrance. We three shared knowing glances and smiles as other customers passed us by and then questioned among themselves, “Where is that wonderful smell coming from?”
My jasmine has lived next to the window in the prayer room and bloomed repeatedly for several years. Each time I looked at the plant or smelled its delightful aroma, I offered a quick prayer of gratitude for those two women.
This year as I waited for the usual late winter buds to appear, something else was beginning to take form: new shoots! Multiple long, slender stems grew and stretched to an amazing 14 inches in ever direction. The small trim 8-inch canopy became a sprawling vine-like plant, although not a single flower bud was formed. It seemed to be time for new growth, for the delightful fragrance to give way to the purposefulness of branching out.
Watching the transformation taking place, I reflect on how much I miss those ladies and the times we’ve spent together in and out of the garden. I miss the fragrance of their friendship and, as always, I pray for them as our lives grow in very different ways. Flowering will come later and through branching out, in more abundance.
For now, I need to be attentive to the changes unfolding in God’s good time.
Copyright 2019 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB