Celebrating Garden Lessons

Good lord it’s Friday already!

I’ve been working away on a big, crazy garden project for the last several weeks.  It involves digging out all the grass in my front boulevard and planting perennials and other lovely things.  I’m alllllmost at the halfway point (I can only give it about an hour a day before my knees start to wobble).  And it’s looking… Well, it’s looking like crap, frankly, but that’s the fun of gardening, isn’t it? It’s a collaboration between you and the plants and the soil and the bugs.  This is something I’m finally beginning to understand – that it’s not me imposing my will on them, it’s all of us working together to make something wonderful.

And as I start to understand this, I’m learning to step back and listen.  I’m learning patience  (which if you know me at all, you’ll know is some kind of miracle).  Because if you practice patience, if you listen to what  it’s telling you, you stand a much better chance of ending up with a lovely, thriving garden filled with happy, healthy plants.

An example: I bought some miniature irises at an auction two years ago and planted them in two different spots out front.  The ones that are on the boulevard flowered this year.  The ones beside the porch where it’s shady, didn’t.  So I transplanted those.  They seem happier already.

As if that isn’t enough work and learning for one summer, (or as one of my neighbours said the other day as I was digging and sweating, “Whoa! Now THAT’S a project!!!!”) we’ve also volunteered our backyard to the Stratford Urban Farming Experiment.  It’s a brilliant concept.  Homeowners  offer up their plots of land.  Volunteers come out and prepare and plant the beds.  The homeowners are in charge of watering, weeding and reporting when things are ready for harvest or if something alarming happens.  And then the food is split among the homeowners, the volunteers and the local food bank.  I can’t even keep track of how many wins there are in this scenario.

Our garden manager stopped in for a visit the other day.  I was nervous about the weeding and wanted someone to tell me what should stay and what should go.  She duly pointed out which was which and then asked, “Have you never grown vegetables before?”  And I realized that, no, I haven’t, aside from the occasional tomato.

Which, fine, whatever.  While I highly recommend getting out and getting your hands in the dirt, learning what a carrot looks like as it starts to poke its tiny fuzzy greenery above ground, learn what plants need and how crazy prolific the earth can be if we just shut up and get out of the way, I also want to say what a difference the name of that group is making in my gardening efforts and in my life.    Heather, the woman who started the group will quietly say, “Well, it’s an experiment.  So if it doesn’t work…”  Which is soooo incredibly freeing!

Now, when I move my plants around, or try making my own mulch by sending my old journals and newspapers through the shredder, leading visitors to ask, “What’s with the confetti?” (love ya, Douglass!) I can relax.  Because it’s just an experiment and if it doesn’t work, I’ll clean up the mess and try something else.

This in addition to my Reiki instructor who emphasises that, yes, we move energy, yes we try to help people, but the word she uses over and over again is Play.  I play with the energy.  I play with the handmade cards that I’m selling.  I play outside with my garden.  I try experiments.  Playfully.   It’ll go off in directions I don’t expect.  There will be results I can’t forsee.  And that’s fine and it’s good and it’s delightful, even the disappointments, because there’s no pressure in play.  We expect things to blow up when we run experiments.   We know we’ll run another one.  We don’t want play to have an end point.

There’s a lot of power in those words, Play and Experiment.  I’d like you to try them out in your life and then please let me know what happens.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

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6 Responses to Celebrating Garden Lessons

  1. sandy says:

    thanks for the reminder, that I’m supposed to be *playing* 🙂 🙂
    automatically don’t take myself so seriously… which is uber good

  2. Barb says:

    Uber good indeed!

  3. Douglass says:

    You made me think of something Thich Nhat Hanh said:

    “Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth.”

  4. Mary Atkinson says:

    I totally reconfigured my front yard last summer as you may recall and it is doing well this year. The knockout roses are more prolific. But I have tried for years to have forget-me-nots some up happily all over my garden as my mother did. Most attempts resulted in a few sparse blooms the first year and then nothing. Last year I transplanted some from the school across the street which was closing and behold this year I have many plants coming up-and blooming-in my stone driveway!!! What do I make of that? I am going to transplant them and see what happens. My way of gardening is to see what likes to live in my garden and then let it have its way. This has resulted in a lot of sage, rue and tall beautiful milkweeds that volunteer each year and which butterflies love. And maybe, finally, after 40 years- forget-me-nots in my driveway.

  5. Barb says:

    My mother was also a huge fan of forget-me-nots. With about the same luck as you’ve had.

    I leave mine to go to seed and then pull them out, shake the seeds over the flower beds and wait till next year. It works well for me…

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