I was feeling a bit burned out one Sunday. On an impulse, I decided to visit a local nursery. I had never been there before, even though I had seen its gates from the road many times. I thought that maybe a little touch with nature would offer the renewal I needed.
At some point, we’ve all most likely been to a nursery in search of plants for our gardens, yards, or flower boxes. We’ve walked through those sliding doors at Wal-Mart or Home Depot, and entered the gardening section. It’s usually a space of concrete and chain link fencing, where the air smells heavily of chemicals. Racks of plants and flowers are interrupted by the occasional stack of terracotta pots. Maybe we also have an idea about decorating our garden with other touches, like a bench, a statue, or a fountain. Most of those accessories are lined up under the bright fluorescent lights inside. It’s nothing special; but you go there for plants, not ambiance, right? It’s functional. It works. You get what you need, and you leave.
That was what I expected when I walked through the iron gates to this nursery. But instead, I was transported to a wonderland.
I found myself in a courtyard, where paths meandered among charming vignettes–dozens of displays that incorporated plants and flowers along with sculptures, stands, and wrought iron furniture. And as if that wasn’t enough, beautiful music filtered through the yard from outdoor speakers.
I started wandering down those paths, finding each turn filled with surprising beauty. As I approached the building, I could see three other pathways, each one showing me intriguing glimpses between the overhanging leaves. Making a mental note to return to them, I went inside–and was blown away again.
Part home decor shop, part furniture store, the nursery was crammed with scene after scene of what can only be described as “outdoors coming in.” The floor was rough red brick, exactly the same as the patio outside. Lovely potted plants and decorative figurines were arranged among charming furniture. It’s been a while since I’ve seen something that took me so off my guard; it was so unlike what I had expected that it nearly dazzled me. Perhaps it was because my soul needed the renewal that nature and music could offer. Or because my creativity rejoiced in the beauty around me. Either way, I found myself wishing I could sit down on one of those comfy-looking couches, pick up a leather-bound notebook from a nearby desk, and stay for a while.
Just like the courtyard, the walkways in the shop led off in different directions. But I let my feet carry me outside again, suspecting that I would eventually see everything, if I kept walking. I passed through the wide open doors to a greenhouse that was filled to bursting with green. Whimsical garden gnomes and aged-looking statues were half-hidden among the leaves. I raised my eyes, and took a breath at the sight of iridescent glass orbs hanging from the roof–like pixie dust, or bubbles in a magical kingdom.
It was like being inside of a fairy tale.
Two things went through my mind as I strolled in wonder through that place. First, I was enthralled with how peaceful I felt–nature’s touch was all around me, and that, partnered with sweet music and enchanting details, caused my mind to reawaken to the beautiful, the fanciful, the mysterious in life.
The second thought sank in with a memory of a blog post by Chris Brogan. He very briefly said, “Be helpful.” In my mind, that had translated to the question, “How can I be helpful to my clients?”
After two months of dwelling in my Swiss-cheese memory, the statement somehow became “Do more.” (Sorry about that, Chris.)
Those words went through my mind as I stared up at iridescent bubbles. The nursery owners didn’t need the bubbles. They didn’t need the tiny doll houses arranged among miniature plants; or the white antique bookcase laden with aromatic bath products; or the butterfly that decorated the vines above a table that held Italian cookbooks. The only scents in that shop were of plants and potpourri, because the necessary chemicals and fertilizers were tucked away in a corner where hardly anyone would see them, unless they looked for them. The owners didn’t need to do that. But they did.
“Functional” gets the job done; but these store owners went the extra mile. Instead of leaving the garden to a customer’s imagination, they showed visitors what a garden haven could really look like–and even more than that, they gave an example of a daily life inspired by nature.
They did more.
How can I go the extra mile? In my business, my blogging, my personal life? How can I add that one extra, unnecessary, extravagant touch of beauty that makes another feel special—and blessed?
That’s a thought to ponder. And I think I know just the place to do it.
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© 2008 Christine Taylor