Lessons from my garden

Notwithstanding the hours yanking capricious weeds from flower beds, or the endless untangling of a hose twisted around my ankles, my garden is a place of great joy. And where there is great joy, there are great teachings. Or perhaps I just made that up. One thing I can say for sure, a garden is the cornerstone of many things, life-lessons included.

A garden is the bedrock of duality; winter and summer, rain and the big dry, a breeze to carry seeds and gusts that uproot, cold snaps and heatwaves, flowers, and weeds, too much and too little. I learnt some time ago that nurturing a garden to perfection will mean little in the face of a hailstorm. So better not to aim to make it perfect. The shredded leaves and broken stems will come back when the weather calms and the seasons change. When life breaks something, us included, the greatest warriors are time and patience. So too in the garden when the frost bites and the wind snaps.

Hands in the dirt, head in the sun

In any season though, the voracious growth of grass, as ordinary and steady as it is, are the lungs of a garden. Each blade gently echoing the energy of the everyday keeping the earth moving and the air rippling; the only problem being that it’s as relentless as the day is long. Sprouting mile high through hedges, trees, and bushes, turning into pampas grass by the time it’s reached the lawns edge. Where it suddenly stops, giving way to hard brown dirt that couldn’t grow a bean. It’s as if it only flourishes where it feels free to, and not where it’s told to neatly behave. Funny that.

A weed by any other name

In my garden of good and evil, an amusing little parody plays out when sneaky look alike weeds pop up alongside flowers. Appearing remarkably like the real thing, these little imposters have an uncanny knack of showing up. I marvel that this is one of the most complex things that can happen in a garden. A weed-like geranium seed searches the yard and plonks itself next to the real thing. Kind of like a stunt double that can take all the knocks.


Put simply, a weed is just a plant that’s grown out of place, or more specifically, one that I didn’t pick up at Flower Power. But these pesky wannabes are the most resilient, natural, and resourceful aides around. They fertilise, keep the ground moist, attract insects and often protect the plants they grow near. Well, nothing really grows when or where we want it to, does it? So many things pop up where we least expect it, so many things happen in their own time, so many times we can look back and say, it was best left to nature. Weeds and all.

All in good thyme

Things happen quickly in a garden. With Spring, birds flit from branch to branch. Flowers bloom overnight. They fade the next day. Day Lilies are just that. A red urban fox has come to see what all the fuss is about. Autumn breezes through in an afternoon and the trees turn crimson and dry. Behind the scenes the earth and the air are silently and diligently turning the wheel of the seasons. We think that change has come suddenly. Like we think that every day passes slowly but a year passes swiftly. Little by little, progress and change is happening all the time, even when we can’t see it, we’ve grown a little more.

If you’re waiting for a seed to sprout, then yes, a garden will teach you patience. But it will also show the art of control, knowing what to hold on to and what to let go. It will show you this in the most painstaking way until you realise that a garden can be a place of least control. I mean, you get a say it in, but it’s a negatable window of influence. As it happens, most things in life become easier with the same understanding.

My favourite time in the garden is when it’s raining. Not only because my watering services are rendered unnecessary, but because with the rain, pause is pressed, and the garden becomes a watercolour where I can stand back and soak in its impressionism. When I look at a Monet, I don’t want to correct anything or change it, I just appreciate the joy it gives. So too a garden. Until I look down and realise that I’ve splashed mud from head to toe, yesterday’s seedlings have been washed away and even the fox now has a wily smirk on his face. 

4 Comments on “Lessons from my garden

  1. Excellent read of reality in its beautiful but sometimes painful truth. Yes life itself is a garden. Very well written. x

  2. After reading this beautiful heartfelt and inspirational piece from Lee, I was reduced to tears, tears of complete understanding of the complexities of our lives as we relate to our garden of weeds and flowers and growth and regrowth. Life This is LIFE.

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