We have lived in our home for three years now and in that time I have learned so many lessons from my garden, about gardening of course and even more about life in general.
Here are a few of the things that dirt patch out back has taught me so far…
EVERY MILLIMETER OF GROWTH IS TO BE CELEBRATED
Each day, but especially in spring, I go down to the garden and meticulously scan the dirt for evidence of any seedlings breaking the surface, any new leaves on my roses, new blossoms on my citrus trees. I get so excited for any sign of growth. I drag my husband down, make him look at it…he humors me but just shakes his head.
Of course I want it brimming with vegetables, herbs and flowers, but I know that will come in the future…for today I am excited about even the tiniest sign of progress.
In real life though, think about how hard we are on ourselves when we are attempting to make changes. Do we give ourselves any grace when the progress is practically imperceptible? Can you imagine if we celebrated even the smallest of growth in our own lives?
MAINTAIN FAITH AND PATIENCE
The garden has shown me that what I sow will bear fruit…eventually, even though I don’t always see the results from my efforts right away, there is work most assuredly going on behind the scenes. Spring is proof of this and has helped to encourage both my faith and patience.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
I probably personally don’t ever need 100’s and 100’s of pounds of squash…ever again.
As I have made my turnaround over the past year, I felt as though I had been missing out on so many things. I raced out and tried to partake in everything I could, absorb it all, make up for lost time. It turns out only a few things actually added to my life in a positive way. I need quality over quantity.
Instead of 8 varieties of squash, maybe I’ll pick just my favorite two this year! Same with trying to make up for lost time…at this point in my life I deserve to spend time doing what feeds my soul, rather than what ultimately sucks it dry.
YOU HAVE TO ADAPT
I live in a place of extremes; extreme heat in the summer and freezing temps at night in the winter. To avoid the unnecessary torture of plant life, I have to learn to adapt and celebrate what works instead of mourning what doesn’t. I have always been an optimistic gardener, sometimes too optimistic as countless plants that have made their way to my garden beds, only to die a fiery death in the mid day heat can attest.
As much as I would love Bougainvillea climbing over my pergola, it wont survive winter here. It just isn’t going to happen, unless I want to replace it yearly. Instead of continuing the torture, I adjusted my expectations and learned to adapt. There are things that grow so naturally well, without coddling, even here. Just because I have had it in the past, I don’t need to have it here. I can let it go and enjoy what I do have.
CUT THE CRAP – THE IMPORTANCE OF PRUNING
We were way too conservative when it came to pruning last year. We had a few plants we clearly did not prune enough. The end result was a number of scraggly, out of control roses and plants looking crazy much too early in the season.
This year, we gave ’em hell, trimming out all the excess. The plants are all much happier, all appropriately pruned at the right time. We are already being rewarded with so much new growth.
This ties together with the idea of quality over quantity. Often times you have to let go in order to have more…you need to cut all the crap out in order to bloom well.
Regular water, good fertilization, and plenty of sunshine. No wonder I felt shriveled for a while. I was lacking all these things! The garden demands it’s needs be met all year-long, or it just flat won’t produce. I had given up on lots of things that I needed, just trying to survive day-to-day, while I provided for so many things outside myself that needed my attention and constant care. There wasn’t a lot of room left for me to provide the same things for myself.
Its taken a little while to get the hang of regular self-care again, but it is becoming more of a priority now. I don’t want to offer up meager fruits from my labor anymore, I want to be able provide fully ripened, full flavored juiciness in all I do.
HONOR THE PAST
I come from a long line of gardeners, in fact before I ever dragged my husband and kids out to see what is happening my garden, it was my mom dragging me outside to see what bulbs had sprouted when I was a kid. My grandfather did the same thing when we visited him, leading me to his garden to show me what his tomatoes were up to, or to pull a turnip from the ground and slice me off a piece with his pocket knife. As much as I hated it when I was a kid, now as an adult, the soil is my home, it’s where my heart is.
If you wander my garden you will find a number of things that honor the gardeners past from my family. There are iris for Bob’s mom, Irene…she called them flags and loved them in every size and color. No white flags for her, she needed full, vibrant color!
You will find zinnias in every color and variety in my yard all summer in honor of my mom and grandfather. There is nothing better planted along a fence line.
And then for my step mother, who always had the best succulent garden when we were kids, I have tucked tiny plants in the nooks and crannies. I have buckets of donkey tail hanging for her. It’s hard to explain how these plants tie me to my people, but they do, they are comforting to me.
These are just some of the lessons from my garden, what have you learned in yours?