If you have a garden, you are truly blessed because a garden is a magical place where you have the opportunity to create a place that is personal, a space that expresses who you are and where you can let your creative energy take form. A garden really can transform your life.
I didn’t know this when, almost twenty years ago I chose to leave my secure job as a University Lecturer to train in Horticulture. I chose to become a gardener because I wanted to grow organic food and because my heart was being pulled. I was pretty clueless then about the huge impact that a garden can have on your life. I didn’t know that it was my soul that was yearning for connection to nature, connection to myself and more compassion. As far as I was concerned I simply wanted fresh air, physical activity and to grow stuff.
Since then I’ve learned so much about the importance of nature and just being in nature and I’ve learned how much gardening can give us in terms of improved well-being and in this post I want to invite you to reflect upon your own garden and your relationship with it.
Consider this question: What do we do in our gardens and what do we experience?
For many of us we use our gardens to relax, enjoy playing with our kids and laugh with our friends. We also delight in the scent, colour and shapes of flowers, we gasp in awe at the power of that tiny seed that is now a tomato in our salad and gaze in wonder and admiration as birds, bees, butterflies and all sorts of critters manage their daily feat of survival.
This is all amazing, magical stuff, yes? But there’s a lot more.
When I reflect upon my journey as a gardener and now, as a consultant, designer and trainer, I realise that gardens have always been a meaningful part of my life; ever since I was a small child aged six who dragged her Nan around her garden asking the names of all the flowers and who snuck out into the garden unnoticed to pull up a fresh, bright orange carrot and eat it before being discovered – a garden comforted me, gave me the space I needed to breathe and escape my noisy family. Those flowers of my childhood are in bloom in my garden now – my inevitable favourites; a tribute to my dear old Nan who was so patient and tried so hard to answer the searching questions of an inquisitive six year old.
I’ve just been transported back to those summer days in the garden with my Nan – treasured memories. I can see her face, hear her voice, picture her smiling as she hands me the paper bag from which I can take a sweet (lemon bon bons were a favourite). I’m sure you will all have experienced this and felt the touch, heard the words and seen the face in your mind’s eye of a lost loved one through garden memories. Such a special connection. As I said, amazing stuff yes?
We often read or hear that gardens help us connect with nature – this is true and very important, but for me what is even more powerful is the way that in our own garden we can connect with and express our authentic and creative selves. In a world where we spend so much of our time acting in roles where we often experience huge cognitive dissonance or simply have to suppress our most important needs, at odds with the world and ourselves, gardening in our own space; just being in our own living, breathing, buzzing, and fluttering space, re-wires our brain and re-connects us with who we are and what is important to us.
So, you see, when you do gardening – in your own garden or in someone else’s – you are actively engaging in a process of connection that is hugely powerful. Put very simply, gardens are places where we can connect with what is important and meaningful to us. We connect with things that are deeply within us; things that rarely have the opportunity to come to the surface and be expressed.
What’s more, when we garden with love putting wildlife and the planet at the forefront of our thoughts and actions, we also help reverse the damage that 21st century lifestyles and economic systems are inflicting on the planet. We can create and sustain valuable habitats and feed bees, butterflies and ourselves. When we garden with love, we also learn to love ourselves. How many of us would benefit from more self compassion? My guess is most of us.
Our gardens, then, are places of connection, healing and nourishment. Next time you step into your garden why not spend a few moments reflecting upon this and see what comes up for you?
Until next time …..