“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” ~Alfred Austin, English Poet, novelist, dramatist
I have dug into the earth with bare hands, day after day convinced my hands would be stained for a lifetime. Soil never quite eliminated from under fingernails for weeks at a time.
Intense periods of grief and trauma have always driven me to the wisdom of the Earth. I’ve dug by hand and tilled by machine (my, what a strangely satisfactory feeling that is!), planted seeds, starts and bulbs, watered with hose and tears, and fertilized with chicken, turkey, and horse poop until flowers and vegetables flourished or failed.
I’ve battled with weeds but always left a few growing because “perfection” is not my goal in the garden. Their presence, representing our constant process of loss, change, healing, and growth, is somehow a comfort. Some “weeds” are edible as in the case of dandelion and Miner’s Lettuce or provide vital nitrogen to the soil as with vetch. The presence of weeds interpreted and judged by our state of mind.
Our interpretation of our life experiences are much the same as how we view weeds. Some weeds remain in my garden as reminders that even the “uninvited” (people, events, situations) in our lives can bring personal growth, strengthen our awareness of life’s precious priorities, and ground us in the enriched soil of our lives. The weed reminds me that even when recognizing personal growth, the pain of loss remains and cannot be plucked out like an errant dandelion.
Whether landing on our table for nourishment or the nourishment of the unwelcome critters who consumed my efforts, I’ve never given up my desire to grow the vegetable garden. I have gardened for years and have always known I was honoring my spirit and healing my mind, body, and heart every step of the way, row by row. Success was measured by how I felt during the process, not by how many tomatoes made it to the table or into the canning jars. The failure of the pumpkins to grow fully for jack-o-lanterns one year was seriously disappointing though! I wonder if my kids even remember?
This year we put up a fence in our front yard allowing my gardening drive to expand into a colorful and serene scene which is also enlivened by the small above ground pool for the kids. Flower gardening has taken my gardening adventure to a new level of joy and allowed for an even deeper emersion in healing through gardening.
Late last year I became the full-time caretaker of my mother’s two flower gardens and her houseplants currently flourishing in the shade on the deck. Most of my gardening photography comes from these plots of beauty where I find my spirit and heart drawn to daily.
I am posting a few photos on Instagram. Sharing my favorite shots adds something to the process. I believe in the process of Healing Through Gardening and it feels good to showcase the beauty with whoever wishes to view it. Oh, yes, my oh my, I’ve joined Instagram! If you had predicted this a year ago I would have laughed at your folly! You can see the most recent photos in the lower right here on my blog.
My mother died three-and-a-half months ago, yet they are still and always will be her gardens. It’s my time to tend the gardens she created with heart and soul. The gardens where she dug her hands into the soil, watered with her tears of loss, rejoiced and basked in the beauty, and raged at the unfairness of life’s cruelest experiences.
It’s my turn to tend the roses. And The White One, which I’ve been eagerly waiting for months to see bloom after a late pruning? See how it shows off its glorious life now!!
Growing a backyard garden is not possible for many folks. That’s okay.
Here are some other ideas:
- Look for a community garden to get involved with
- Grow container plants on apartment deck – succulents may be a good choice as they are low maintenance and can bloom incredibly beautiful flowers – or try tomatoes if you have at least 6 hours of sun exposure
- Grow herbs in a windowsill
- Grow a sprouting tray – my kids love broccoli sprouts! They are fast, nutritious, and super easy
- Check with locally owned garden centers for gardening classes or opportunities in the community – look for master gardener classes
- Grow houseplants – do a search for easy to grow plants that could thrive in your home environment, considering light and temperature – Creeping Charlies and Philodendrons are super easy keepers
There was a time when I lived in an apartment with a small kitchen window facing east to the apartments across the parking lot. My marriage to my high school sweetheart was in high turbulence mode him being an active addict and all. I was 22 years-old.
I had a heartleaf philodendron hanging in the corner of the kitchen nook. It had only indirect light exposure for a short time during the morning. That little plant grew vines 8′ long or more. I wove them in and out of the lattice that hung against the wall-size mirror (lattice? sounds weird but it was cool). It was a jungle come moving day! Somehow that little plant gave me a sweet small feeling of joy watching it grow. I look back and remember it fondly and so clearly amongst the long shut away painful memories.
The bottom line? Grow something – and I don’t mean marijuana. It might just nurture your soul.
*Quotes of Wisdom – a Friday at 9am (Pacific Time Zone) series offering Wisdom, Feel Good, Inspirational and Thought-provoking Quotes. Sometimes with links and most likely, with too many thoughts of my own included.
As always, thank you for visiting! Feel free to like, comment, share, follow my journey or re-blog as your heart and mind desire. Namaste