Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Weeks 21 & 22 - Inner Gardening

One of the things I loved most about our new house when we bought it 18 months ago was that there were no existing gardens. The previous owners had dug up all of their flowers and transplanted them to their new digs. Which was perfect as it left me with half an acre of blank canvas to play with.

Since we moved here from a townhouse where I had gardened illegally for ten years, I did the same as the previous owners and brought my flowers with me. Moving in late September, there wasn't enough time to plan that first flower bed, so I simply dug up an area by the house to get my rag-tag collection of irises in the ground before the first winter. I wouldn't exactly call them a garden. A holding pen maybe, but not a garden. Functional but not at all what it could be. If only I knew what I wanted to create!

Let the absence of actual paintings and the plethora of painting paraphernalia in my soul cave be a testament to how much I enjoy blank canvas. I have spent the better part of my life desperate for open space to garden, soil to sink my hands into and cultivate, sacred ground in which to pour my passion for fostering growth. And yet ever since my wish was granted, I've wondered...what will be my first broad stroke across this wide expanse of green?
Sometimes we just don't know what we're looking for until we dare to ask the question.

Last week, my husband and I went to a workshop sponsored by our city about how to build a rain garden. Along with a date to the Home & Patio Show, it seemed as good a place as any to start exploring. Besides, what more perfect time is there than pre-spring to decide on the projects that will dot the landscape of our summer?

At the workshop, I came face-to-face with what I didn't know I had been looking for. The organizers of the workshop, a trio of self-proclaimed native plant geeks, did a presentation on the local flora and fauna, past and present. We were shown a map from 200 years ago that laid out our county in its natural state -- what the plant composition consisted of around the time it was settled. Prairie flowers and grasses, and stands of woods consumed every square inch. Then we were shown the same map today stripped of nearly 99% of that original vegetation. I wasn't the only one in the room who audibly gasped.

Of course they were preaching to the choir, right? A room full of nature lovers, of course we would be horrified. They went for the wow-factor and got it. But they weren't simply telling tales of woe, they were giving solutions. We were the solution. Nothing fires me up more than being invited to find my place in the way of things. There was no guilt...just common sense solutions. Connection and responsibility. Lessen the affect of the runoff from my house? Improve the quality of the local watershed? Reintroduce native plants that will provide a respite for migrating Monarchs and songbirds? Create natural spaces that allow our land to heal and return to the self-sustaining splendor of what it once was? All by planting native gardens? You betcha! I'm in.

This past week has found me reading up and drawing maps and choosing plants. In doing so, it has occurred to me that in gardening and meditation our intent can be one and the same: to gently reestablish the natural order of things. In the garden, by investing in what supports the local ecosystem as it was meant to be, we enable the plants and all manner of wildlife to flourish. In meditation, by creating space for our true nature to reveal itself and take hold once again, and by letting go of the invasive beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that keep us from remembering who we are, we reconnect with what is essential to our authentic growth. In both, we can take responsibility for our place in the way of things and do our part. Gardening, meditation...meditation, gardening...same thing.

We create space, we show up, we do the work, we enjoy the process. Had I known I had all the open ground I needed inside of me, I would have started gardening much sooner.

While I can hardly wait for a fresh cutting of garden flowers on my kitchen counter, I'll keep working on the inner garden for now...the rewards of both are sweet enough.//

No comments:

Post a Comment