Archives for posts with tag: planting the seeds of the future

My work in the garden continues. It’s mostly ‘winter work’; tasks that get the garden started in spring, like pruning, getting beds ready for bulbs, cleaning up this and that, making room for my hopes and dreams, and seeing my vision of the garden come alive as the weather warms and the days grow long. I spend so many gray winter hours leafing through garden catalogs, scribbling on graph paper, asking partners odd questions about colors, forms, scents, and placement. I garden all year long.

Gardening has a lot in common with self-growth. This year I explore so much more of this with my eyes wide open, aware, observing, learning. I’m not going after some illusive standard of perfection; I love having my hands in the soil, connecting with living things, and simply enjoying the timeless wonder and delight of the garden. I have roses, herbs, bulbs, vines, trees, things for sun, things for shade, things that bear fruit, things that fill the air with wonderful fragrance…and two little chairs and a small table. On pleasant days I love to sit with my morning latte as the day unfolds, listening to peeping little frogs, chattering squirrels, the strident cry of the neighborhood hawk, and the songs of assorted little birds. It’s all very ordinary, I suppose, certainly the words don’t tell the tale with any power to really connect to the experience.

There have been years of my life when my garden was the entirety of my fragile hold on sanity. It isn’t fair to make a small plot of earth and a few vegetables and flowers do the heavy lifting involved in keeping me connected to what is good in life, but my garden has been there for me when I needed it, and never failed me. The garden connects me to my Granny, a woman of incredible will, wisdom, and humanity. It connects me to my Dad, too. I have no idea how old I was the first time I pulled weeds in the garden, but the first summer I did so for my Dad was early in 1973, I think. I remember sitting on the recently tilled ground, fretfully crushing clumps of dirt, instead of weeding, when I thought no one was watching – and mumbling about indentured servitude. I wasn’t exactly a fan of manual labor, and preferred the quiet of my room, and the excitement of a good book.  When adulthood hit me with tsunami-force after I joined the Army, it was the gardening that I yearned for, it was the gardening that I sought out for solace, and time and again even my life overseas found me with my hands in soil – potted plants on apartment balconies, tiny window box gardens, or a tree in a pot on a patio.

Seeds, like ideas, begin so small. They sit quietly, without evidence of their future size or usefulness, and wait. They wait for their moment. They wait for conditions to be right. Timeless and impersonal, they are still and small, all potential.  I love planting by seed.

The front garden is nice. Trim and pretty tidy, with a bit of brick path, another bit of slate path curving around the side, some shade, a lot of sun, and the small patch of lawn that is the suburban hallmark of home ownership. I brought in more (and different) roses, colorful wildflowers, pots of herbs, more roses, and feeders for hummingbirds and songbirds.  I love taking a garden space, and seeing it change over time as plants, and ideas, are added.  This spring I started big. Along the brick walk has been a low evergreen hedge of heather, and I like it ‘well enough’ I guess… perhaps not in that location, or maybe not so much of it, or…

Heather. Lovely, evergreen, not what I want in that space.

Heather. Lovely, evergreen, not what I want in that space.

As pretty as it is, it’s rather taking over that space, and just isn’t what I’m looking for in that spot. So… it’s out. I had a plan, before I got going…

Change presents so many opportunities.

Change presents so many opportunities.

In the dim light of dawn, early yesterday, I looked at the bare earth where the heather had been, and I felt just a bit sad for a moment, thinking of the experience of choosing to cull some living thing from a less than ideal circumstance, for lack of aesthetic, usefulness, or quality of character. I thought, too, of the experience of being culled…laid off from a job, fired, divorced, or any number of similar unexpected changes of life that I’ve faced. How easy it can be to take it very personally.

I considered my plan for that garden bed, clearly no longer ‘a hedge’ of any sort at all. I selected flower seeds with care; a variety of colorful California poppies, hybrids and fancy ones, and I chose some dark leafed kale for dense green vegetation – pretty and useful – and planned groupings of gladiolus with their bold colors and ‘reach for the sky’ approach to life. I’m hoping the new plantings are light-hearted and fun, a playful foreground for my Graham Thomas rose in the background. This year he will begin to stretch out in the front bed, reaching for his full size. I enjoyed putting down the earliest seeds in the afternoon…and like a little kid, I’ll check every day for seedlings, even though I know it will be days. 🙂

There is always more to do in the garden. Each year I get started at the end of February, thinking for just a moment “am I starting too soon”? It seems to work out just fine, though, and surely the slugs are already busy… they know spring when they feel it. lol.

Slug life... there's probably a metaphor here.

Slug life… there’s probably a metaphor here.


Well, not literally ‘new eyes’, new awareness is more accurate. It’s been a good weekend for awareness. Spring is on the horizon, too, and my thoughts are full of seeds, flowers, rose bushes, trees that want a bit of pruning, and rich brown earth waiting to be turned, amended, and planted.

A promise of sunny days to come.

A promise of sunny days to come.

This weekend I could be found in the garden. In the rain as often as not, and yes, in the garden. I pruned the plum-tree out by the back fence; two summers I have fussed about tangled low-hanging branches, and the challenges of gathering the tasty fruit. This weekend I took care of that, with love and attention, and aware that soon each branch would be leafy and heavy with fruit. Each cut I made was focused on the tree-right-now, and also on a desired form of tree-later-than-now. It was as much meditation as labor, and I delighted in the experience.

I took time to prune tangled roses and potato vine at the corners of the deck, tying up long graceful canes and branches when I’d completed the pruning. I’m eager to see the outcome, in summer, with leaves and flowers everywhere.

I mixed a couple of favorite blends of wildflower seeds, with some favorite annual garden flowers much less ‘wild’, and eagerly filled pots with rich soil and compost, and a few seeds. (It’s nice to have some containers of living flowers that I can easily move here and there depending on what we’re doing in the garden.) I sowed flower seeds in a couple of borders, and along the barren bank of a small hill that I stared at with some annoyance all summer last year; surely some hardy wild flowers will grow there? I tucked dahlia bulbs between jasmine and clematis vines, near a bit of deck trellis that supports hanging pots that are seeded with nasturtiums and sweet peas. There should be a lot of flowers this year…

‘Should’ is a funny word. It sets the stage for our unfounded expectations, resting them on an illusion of a foundation – a magical world where things do what we imagine they ought to do, for some mysterious ‘reason’, because they ‘should’. I caught myself yesterday, thinking ‘there should be a lot of flowers this year…’  As opposed to last year? When I also planted a lot of seeds? Sure – but last year I wasn’t as patient with the real work of gardening, and often lacked the will to really dig in and push my effort beyond the lethargy and ennui that is often the most obvious byproduct of ‘OPD’ (Other People’s Drama). This year, I am willing to smile at the seeds, the future flowers, the vines that need pruning right now, the roses that want to be prepared for that early bout of black spot in the spring, and understand the work of Love, and the work in the garden, are the same work; tending the needs of Life to grow and thrive. I may have a lot of flowers this year. My garden has that potential. Surely, rather than ‘should’, what I have is ‘may’ – and my will is predictably a factor there, as are my choices. If I don’t water, tend the plants, dead head the roses, harvest fruits, my garden will predictably be less vibrant, less productive, and less ‘full of flowers’. So simple.

There is always work to do in the garden. If I envision an outcome, my effort makes it more likely. If I dread a particular disaster, my effort to prepare and mitigate reduces the effect that disaster may have. If I am stressed, having my hands in the soil, and among the leaves and flowers, soothes my heart. There are a lot of verbs in my garden. Seeing the work of the garden through eyes that resent labor or effort, or feel only the weight of the work, and the commitment, can make it all seem so overwhelming, and a bit lacking in any chance of completion. Seeing the work of the garden through new eyes, each task becomes its own joy, its own moment to be one with Life.

There have been years when my garden held the entirety of what was sane and whole about me in its fragile eco-system. That’s a big burden for small flowers, and it worked out mostly pretty well; here I am. I cherish my garden, each flower, each tree, each paving stone and feeder. Now I get how much more the journey matters than the destination, and even sitting down to prune a potted rose on a rainy day, or slog through a muddy yard to plant wild flowers on a slope, or hang baskets that will soon be filled with flowers, there is joy and satisfaction in each task. I’m no longer frantically working toward a finish line; I’m just working, right now.

My garden is also filled with metaphors. Change. Sufficiency. Joy. Life. Love. All the best things emotion and heart and mindfulness have to offer are right there in the garden, for me. Life’s darker lessons have their moment in the garden, too, and I see them all through new eyes.

Another work week begins, and time to tend a very different sort of garden. 🙂

It is an unusual Monday. I woke feeling cross and dissatisfied, irritable, almost angry – and my entire being went looking for fight. Well, that’s the feeling of it, when the day started. I allowed myself the respect and consideration of really feeling it, acknowledging the presence of it in my experience, and an honest admission of awareness that emotions can be quite illusory, and transitory, and that the thinking I use to prop up those emotions can be deceptively well crafted to support continuation, rather than resolution. Yay me… I’m still feeling cross.

Roses blooming. My emotions are not relevant to their experience.

Roses blooming. My emotions are not relevant to their experience.

As I walked to work contemplating my feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction, it quietly became more honest, more vulnerable, and a more accurate expression of unmet needs and longing. Longing. (I am finding satisfaction in the word, as an expression of my experience this morning. ‘I woke with a sense of longing’.) I spent the walk to the office musing about longing.  I re-phrased a variety of recent expressions of discontent, dissatisfaction, loss, frustration, and moments that fell short of expectations, turning them into frank expressions of desire and longing. It is an interesting exercise in self-expression that takes garden-variety everyday bitching and renders commonplace moments of unhappiness into something more profound – and constructive.

From my perspective, longing doesn’t feel as ‘negative’ as dissatisfaction – or as hopeless. Longing feels poignant, deep, even necessary. Longing feels respectful of prior joys and experiences, and honors what is valued and loved. Longing reminds me of what I want and why I want it, without attacking someone dear to me as though they are an obstacle in obtaining my desires.  Having said that… I find myself puzzled by longing. Is it a ‘now’ thing? Is it a trap that combines past and present, but delivering nothing of value, merely holding me in thrall to desire?  I am still a student of life, of love…and there seems always to be more to learn.

One very nice thing about longing… my own longing for a thing, person, event, or experience is not an attack on someone else.  It is sometimes challenging [for me] to express ‘dissatisfaction’ or ‘discontent’ without seeming to attack someone else, as though they are the source of my emotional experience. ‘Longing’ seems bigger than that…with a presence in my experience that is clearly ‘of me’ and ‘for me’, part of who I am, and an expression of what I value and what I need.

There’s more to think about here, more questions to ask, more connections to make, more experiences to parse and correlate, more to understand and explore…more life to live…and time to write another day.

A footnote, of sorts: for so very long I experienced longing for a greenhouse of my own. I have such fond memories of the greenhouse attached to my grandmother’s house, so many years ago. I don’t believe I ever really said so, beyond the occasional remark about it being ‘a cool idea’ (not a very precise expression of longing). In a sense, this entire post is the period at the end of a ‘thank you’ to a man who adores me so much that he often knows my heart’s desire long before I learn the words to share it with him.  😀

Thank you, Love.

Thank you, Love.

…Oh, and I no longer feel cross; I am experiencing a sense of longing, and enjoying the satisfaction of understanding myself just a bit more than I did yesterday. 🙂