Inch By Inch, Row By Row
"Life begins the day you start a garden."
- Chinese proverb
I’ve been thinking a lot about my garden this summer.
Three years ago, my garden was in disarray. The plants had been planted haphazardly before we moved in, as if by an apathetic grocery bagger who doesn’t care they’ve just packed your eggs on top of your bread. The so-called gardener was obviously at the end of their day, nearing the end of their plants, and tossed whatever was left into our backyard in a hurry before going off to grab a weekend beer with friends.
After a couple of years of (ignorance- and priority-related) neglect, the ornamental grasses had spread with abandon.
I didn’t know anything about gardening, and every time I looked out the back window, I felt a heaviness; the emotional burden of clutter and disorder.
Recently as I planted a couple of daphnes given by a friend, it dawned on me that I was close to the end of planting. I have reached my goal of having a tidy, one-hour-a-week garden with flowers and herbs!
I accomplished this very gradually, over the course of three years, by capitalizing on bouts of natural inspiration, investing in healthy plants, and spreading out costs over a series of visits to the garden store. I asked questions, worked on my own schedule, and when it made sense, paid for expert help. For a while I followed a plan, but I also included some plants that called to me.
It’s satisfying to take stock of how far I’ve come. Are there still a few empty spaces that need filling? Definitely. But I have a dependable source of basil, mint and cilantro. Lavender, echinacea, dahlia, and other blossoms attract bees and butterflies throughout the warm season. The weeds are easy to spot and remove.
It takes far less than an hour a week to maintain, but even better than that, the time I spend in my garden makes me happy. I feel productive here, and I still find wonder in the cyclical blooming, cutting back and re-blooming of flowers.
That sense of burden has been replaced with clarity and pride.
Without realizing it, this is the same approach I’ve set out for myself as I mind my own business:
Take it slow. Learn along the way. Ask tons of questions (even the embarrassing ones like: is this a plant or a weed?). Make a plan, but leave space for the magic (and freedom!) that can come out of adjusting it. Celebrate positive outcomes. And most importantly, enjoy the process.
|Before: Mary Mary quite contrary,
WTF happened to your garden?
|After: Eat your heart out Mary!|
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