I hated gardening as a kid. Hated it with a passion. I would be given a tiny square of the garden and a plethora of seeds and advised heavily on how to plant them, what they needed etc. Daily I would be told to go water them and tend them – urrrghhh. Why did my parents hate me so much!!! Then the weeds came and I would be forced to go pull them out. I didn’t want to as I didn’t want to be there, I had friends to play with, stuff to do and meh! So the weeds would take over the radishes, nasturtiums or whatever I had planted and I was totally okay with that..
Interestingly enough when I became a mumma, as my kids hit about 3 I would encourage them to come out to the garden, play in the dirt, eat worms, plant something. Some most certainly came and played and others resisted highly, so I didn’t push it. I would throw manure, dirt, straw and compost into a bed and some of the kids would dive in and swim in it all and mix it up for me. Others would run screaming back into the house!
As an adult I love to garden. I love to grow our own food so we always have a massive veggie garden wherever we go. We have certain flowers that we really enjoy looking at and their scent fills the air when we are sitting outside and eating dinner, and having a fresh herb garden to enhance my cooking (did I say cooking is not my forte?) – hells to the yes!
Dirt is soothing. When stressed – playing in the dirt and tending a garden helps to reconnect you back to your body, pulls you out of your head and connects you to the the glorious mother earth. In a study in the Netherlands (as reported by CNN), two groups of students were told to either read indoors or garden for thirty minutes AFTER completing a stressful task. The group that gardened reported being in a better mood than the group that read. And they also exhibited lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Plants don’t judge! Sometimes we need to share our fears, stories, embarrassments or hopes and desires with someone, just to unpack them and say them outloud. Make sure you pick someone who can really hear you, honour you and not ridicule you. If you don’t have someone safe to do that with talk to the plants.
Deadhead. When the flowers are done, it’s important to either trim them back or just remove their heads. This in turn tidies up the garden and allows for some varieties of flowers to rebloom. This is like de-cluttering your space. If your home, office, studio are in chaos then your mind is often in chaos, you can’t find things, you open the door and get overwhelmed by the mess (so you quickly close the door). Tidying your space and putting things where they are meant to be as well as getting rid of the things that you don’t use any more creates huge physical, emotional and mental space for new and vibrant things to come in.
Weeds. They creep in and if you ignore them they take over everything choking out the flowers, the tomatoes, wrapping themselves up the corn stalks, and where you thought you were going to have beans – you just have weeds! This is like stinky thinking. If you don’t pay attention to your thoughts and limiting beliefs and weed them out regularly with mindful practices your mind can become like a weed choked garden – green, but not productive, and not very pretty!
Sometimes a plant needs to be moved as it isn’t thriving and growing, due to lack of light or nutrients in the the soil, or it’s getting crowded out by something else. This is the same with relationships, some are nourishing and some aren’t and for your own well being sometimes you just need to smile, say thanks and move on to where you can thrive and grow.
If you have a single fruit tree, bees help. They don’t care where the tree is, their job is to pollinate and this in turn serves by helping that tree produce fruit. You may feel that you are all on your own, but in reality if you stepped out the door and went and volunteered somewhere, or went and helped someone else you would find that you are fully supported and can produce fruit from your time and labour. Be the Bee!
The weather can do a lot to help plants grow, but plants also need love, attention, nutrition and fertiliser. Like humans! We need healthy food, water, love, attention, activities that nourish us, and a spiritual practice that feed us. With these things we flourish, bloom and grow in extraordinary ways.
So you planted a seed, what’s the first thing to come up? Dirt! Dirt gets pushed up and out of the way as the sprout grows and reaches toward the sun. This is the same as when we implement something new in our lives, whether it is a mindset change, a new way of eating, going to the gym, trying something new, releasing an old habit – you name it. The Ego kicks up front and centre and will try to convince you this is a dumb idea, but if you just see it as the dirt coming up before that lovely new habit pushes through and throws down strong roots, you are all good.
There are always bugs, one moment you are sitting in your garden feeling very zen and happy and then something flies into your ear or up your nose – don’t freak out (though a bug up the nose is very annoying) – just remove it and carry on. Don’t make that “5 minutes of bug up the nose” an all day event, or an excuse. Someone says something critical or rude to you – pick it out of your nose and let it go. Don’t spend the whole day obsessing about it and wallowing in the things you could have said, what did they mean exactly etc. etc.
Creating a gorgeous garden can take longer than you think – don’t judge it, map it out, stay focused, give it attention, be patient and slowly do it. Like life. If you want to be a top athlete, play the bagpipes, be a world renowned speaker, it takes time, attention and patience. But the daily results and the masterpiece are so frigging worth it.