Behold, the first gardenia bloom of the season. Not the most lush or symmetrical, but given the weekend's storms, this seems miracle enough.
The weather has been warm enough for flowers for weeks--I've seen gardenias in flower in my neighbors yards. I've been checking this bush every day. So many buds, so tightly closed... until now.
There are ways to force a gardenia to bloom, I'm told--most involve narrow temperature ranges and restricting access to light. Difficult to bring about in an outdoor plant, and quite honestly, it sounds like plant torture.
Alternately, I could give up, turn my back in frustration. The plant would not care, and I might miss out on something remarkable.
Patience is rarely my strong suit, but nature has plentiful reminders that these things cannot be rushed or even planned for. Just keep your eyes open to joy when it comes, and breathe in the sweet fragrance when it is available to you.
And then keep hope--that more blooms will follow in the weeks to come, and with a certain nurturing of the plant, again next year.