My Garden, My Teacher

Although I don’t often repost them, I love the memories that Facebook shares with me every morning. They make me smile as I remember. I re-read blog posts from the Year of Firsts and Year of Journeys. I’m often amazed that so much time has passed since a special event. This morning, my attention was caught by a photo that I posted three years ago today. 

That’s a view across my backyard, on this date in 2013, as the city finished remediating my yard. After the 2011 tornado, soil samples from properties in “the zone” revealed too much lead in the soil. My yard was scheduled for soil replacemnt. It took longer than I thought it would, but when the task was completed, I had a new yard with two feet of fresh, rich dirt. Best of all, it was rock free. Missourians know how amazing that is! 

Three years ago today, I wrote that I had a blank canvas to create upon. Little did I know on that day just how true that statement would prove to be. Seeing the photo this morning stirred memories and emotions. I was excited, at the end of the day, to get into my gardening clothes and putter in my happy place. 

The backyard has changed so much since I took the first picture. I’ve poured thought and labor into this masterpiece, along with sweat and blood, joy and love. I’ve spent hours and hours in the garden, planting and watering, weeding and mulching, digging and dividing. And also…relaxing and sipping tea, humming and crooning to plants, sketching, reading and reflecting. I am so content as I putter in this sacred space, so at peace. And I am a student. 

The garden, I realized today, has taught me so much these last three years. I’ve learned gardening, of course. Such as, which plants thrive in my backyard and which ones don’t. And what plants are considered invasive. It’s illegal, I discovered, to plant Scottish thistle in my yard! And one little ivy plant can become a wild, tangled jungle. Spiders like to live in upside down flower pots. Praying mantis tend to group together. And almost any interesting container can house a flowering plant. 

Life lessons have abounded too. I’ve learned patience as I’ve waited for seeds to sprout and I was taught persistence by plants that adapted and then thrived. There is a rhythm and flow to the garden, a cycle of growth and rest, that I have recognized as being present in my own life. Surprises delight or perplex, as they do on my journey. I choose how I want to respond. 

What I have learned most from this gardening experience is that what I desire, dream about and intend, comes into existence at the perfect time. Cleaning out clutter in my studio recently I found backyard garden plans that I sketched ten years ago. At that time, I didn’t know when that dream would manifest. But I knew what I wanted in the backyard…a beautiful, whimsical, peaceful place to relax, share, and find inspiration. I completed small gardening projects, and continued to dream, while letting go of the outcome. 

I could not have forseen then how the garden would be born…that a tornado would bring destruction, and a brand new yard, a fresh beginning, a blank canvas. 

“I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something new; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark. Through gardening we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon our land.” Julie Moir Messervy

Yes. I am making art, as I create in the garden. And the garden is making me whole. We are growing, together.