Life Lessons from Gardening

Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get

Forrest Gump

Building on Forrest Gump’s insightful words, I further propose that life is a bit like gardening. It blooms, then withers, restores, flourishes then decays. Earlier in the year, I began the Garden Project, seeking to makeover the overgrown jungle that I’d inherited adjacent to my new abode. Initially I spent much time weeding, importing soil and preparing the area for sowing. The Garden Project has progressed somewhat since then, with a smattering of successes and numerous misadventures, intermingled with invaluable lessons. Gardening teaches us that growth requires nurturing and we have to be adaptable to unexpected changes, comparable to life in a way.

Garden Project: March 2020
Garden Project: November 2020 (note home made covering to keep out possums and provide shade)

Gardeners innately tend to their plants, responding to their needs – providing water when they are drooping, nutrients when they are hungry, adjusting shade and sunlight as necessary and protecting them from virulent pests. To succeed at life we must also learn to care for ourselves.

Alongside gardening, this year, I’ve also been learning about meditation, which I’ve discovered is a way to give yourself attention, to tend to your inner ecosystem. Like plants, our own mental and emotional wellbeing also requires nourishing; mediation is one tool I’ve found useful to help me thrive. Meditation, teaches us to be a friend to ourselves, akin to how gardening teaches us to be a friend to the critters and green friends in our back yard. In my experience, they are both avenues to soothing the soul.

Gardening continues to teach me to be adaptable, flexible and patient. In the garden some things blossom, while others struggle. My home-made-white-bucket-hand-drilled worm farm has miraculously transformed food scraps into nutrient dense worm juice and castings; comparatively, caterpillars devoured most of my kale and salad greens and nefarious possums decimated a couple of shrubs. Self-sown tomatoes are growing rapidly, along with beans, herbs and spinach; conversely the tomato seeds I planted, along with rhubarb, beetroot and lettuce have produced miserly results.

Life often throws us unforeseen challenges, which we have to confront. And as 2020 has unfolded, everyone has had to grapple with the unexpected challenges that a global pandemic imposes and adjust to a new way of life where travel is restricted, socialising is done via a screen, home becomes our work office and families are separated. Others have dealt with family tragedies, sudden illness or injury. In the garden, my plants and I have had to adapt to cope with significantly more sunlight and heat, as the tall backyard trees that provided shade were suddenly felled without warning.

Unexpected disturbance: possums caught in the act of nibbling my shrubs!

Gardening and mediation are pathways I’ve found useful for tending to my inner environment. Both practices can teach us much, but you don’t have to be green fingered or a yogi to reap their fruit. Simply being in nature can have wonderous benefits, as can cultivating a little time for yourself doing something you enjoy. Why not take the time for yourself and for nature? You and the earth will feel better for it.

Take some time for yourself and enjoy the view

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