(Pictured: a cosy garden we spotted in England)
We are ever-so-slowly learning how to homestead (see here), and this summer I started a garden. I’m still in awe that we’ve managed to grow anything.. even though I had experience gardening as a kid, it still feels different to take full ownership of a garden. My husband and I started by cutting down untamed plants, and covering the ground with a black tarp to clear the weeds that had taken over.
We could have started planting in the spring, soon after our move, but after settling in we went on a “belated honeymoon“, and planting was delayed until early June. I decided to start small, by filling in a raised garden bed of stone at the front of the house. We removed the tarp off of the bed, and let the ground recover for a bit. Then I planted flowers, and scattered seeds in the remaining spaces: roses, cosmos, forget-me-nots, lupines, lavender, and lemon balm, among others. My mind was still full of the gardens in Ireland and the UK, and I imagined creating a cottage-garden style bed full of flowers of all different shapes, sizes and colors.
However, it was not that easy.
The unusual heavy rain came, and for over a week, there was rarely any sunshine – just dreadful clouds and almost unceasing rain that streamed down the driveway and ran like a little river behind the house. Every day I watched the garden from the window, wondering if the plants would survive. Our 91-year-old neighbor’s vegetable garden also flooded. I hoped gardening would not be a failed experiment.
Another typhoon blew through over this weekend as well – but finally, the thunderstorms have abated, and the sun begins to show. Cosmos stems have grown tall, and the roses are unharmed. Now, another month nearly ended, many of the seeds I planted in the early summer have finally germinated, and are beginning to grow from seedlings into recognizable plants (even if not yet flowering). Our efforts have not been in vain.. even if our garden is a little behind compared to those planted in spring!
Gardening, in addition to adding beauty to our home (and eventually food as well), provides an opportunity to grow my character. For example, while my mind is always bubbling with ideas, I am not a details-person. My creative energy comes in spurts, and as it takes a lot of momentum to finish something, I often do things quickly to give a project the best chance of completion before my energy dwindles. I do not have the gift of “taking it easy”.. and this has its upsides, but it also means that I am vulnerable to burn-out and stress.
Through planting, and all of the waiting involved, I feel how progress can be slow and steady. How plants (like people) can be resilient, even through storms.. and how watering day by day produces fruit, just as it does when we water our souls. Gardening can be healing, drawing me closer to God’s natural balance, versus the hectic patterns of the world.
Every morning before I breakfast I check through the window to see if something new has budded – and most days, there is nothing new. But sometimes, I glimpse buds forming or petals unfurling, and all of the waiting seems worthwhile. Growth, and creation, takes time. It takes slow breaths. Pauses. Time to think, feel, and reflect.. and as the stems of my flowers grow taller, so I grow, too – more loving, fruitful, and alive.
What lessons do you learn from nature?
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