My backyard garden is five years old this summer, and it is a constantly shifting and evolving work in progress. I love my garden. I love how connected it makes me feel, to the earth, to beauty and to myself. I pull weeds and snip herbs and gather life lessons from my personal paradise.
And…my garden seems to delight in surprising me.
The first two years after its creation, my garden matured, the perennials filling in as they grew. I got to know my garden and it got to know me. The first surprise the garden offered to me, the third summer, was a perfect heart shape, formed from the expanding patch of brown eyed Susans. I was touched. I felt like I had poured love into the garden and it was loving me back, in a very unique and visible way.
That same year, two Julys ago, I switched to a plant based diet. Vegetables became an increasingly important part of my health and wellbeing…and yet, I only grew flowers, grasses and herbs in my garden. Interestingly, herbs initially drew my interest because I loved the way they smelled, in the garden and dried, added to homemade potpourri. The Divine knew though, that herbs would be crucial to my health. By the time I figured that out, I had a mature herb garden at my disposal.
I didn’t intend to have a veggie patch. So my garden gave me a hint I couldn’t miss. A volunteer tomato plant sprung up in the middle of my southern flower border. I had no idea where it came from and assumed a bird flying overhead deposited a seed. Not only did I get the hint, I was inspired. I added a raised vegetable garden last summer.
Fruits are important too. So last summer, while I tended my herbs, my flowers and my veggies, the garden surprised me again. A volunteer watermelon plant appeared in a corner, near the back porch. I could deduce that I must have spit watermelon seeds onto the ground the year before, while sitting on the back porch. That plant produced several wonderful watermelons for me to enjoy.
Fast forward to this summer, year five for the garden. I have the herbs, the grasses, the flowers and the veggies. Another watermelon vine is growing near the back steps, and stretches 8 feet into the yard. I have not one, but two volunteer tomato plants growing among the flowers in the southern border. They aren’t in the same place as previous volunteer tomato plants. Even though I have five tomato plants growing in the veggie garden, which is no where near the flower garden, I allow these surprise plants to remain. They are gifts, after all.
A week ago, I noticed a new plant growing in the flower bed, not far from one of the volunteer tomatoes. It looked vaguely familiar so I left it alone and didn’t classify it as a weed. I’ve watched it become a vine, and tonight, as I watered, I noticed tiny yellow flowers had appeared. I identified it. The mystery plant is a cantaloupe.
I’ve never grown cantaloupe in the back yard, although I had a plant last summer in the veggie garden, which is located in the side yard. The vine took up so much room that I didn’t plant any this summer. And yet…here lies a cantaloupe vine, snaking through the brown eyed Susans, field phlox and cone flowers. I don’t know how it took root here, however, I accept it as another special gift from my garden.
As I squatted down next to the vine, touching the leaves and pondering these mysteries, I recalled a radio show I listened to recently. During the show, called Growing Your Own Food, Anthony William shared that when we grow our own fruits and vegetables they adapt to our bodies. As we tend to our gardens, touching and talking to the plants, they know what our bodies need, to heal and to live in optimal health.
Isn’t that amazing? Our food adapts to meet our unique health needs. This information resonated deeply with me. Experiencing my garden the way that I do, I believe what Anthony shared. How could I not, when my garden surprises me so wonderfully with exactly what I need?
Thinking back over the past few years, I can see how my garden has progressively led me toward greater health and wellbeing, staying ahead of my growing awareness. Plants are adapting to meet my needs…and my whole garden is adapting to me as well, showing me what’s possible, surprising me with plants that I did not tuck into the ground and inspiring me to expand what I grow.
How marvelous and mysterious and grand my garden is. My own personal space is much more personalized than I realized. I am grateful for the gifts and the surprises, and I am open to receiving more from this living, adaptable, gracious benefactor. I can’t wait to see what the garden offers to me next.