Lately, I have been learning more about gardening. I was always drawn more to wild nature that ran its own course, but as I now have a small patch of fertile land, I have come to the conclusion that I need to garden. In this time of the year, nature’s growth is relentless. If I do not do anything, wild growth takes over the land completely. Obvious, right? However, this realization allowed me to connect to a deeper understanding of my role and perhaps the role of humans and other animals in general. If we are playing our part in a balanced ecosystem, we keep each other in check and are all contributing to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Humans particularly seem to be programmed to like order and symmetry. This is something you discover in wild nature too, if you look past the apparent chaos. Just pick up a pine cone the next time you are in the forest, observing its structure closely, and you will see what I mean. Our natural tendency to create a some order and space in our gardens, giving some plants space to grow while keeping others out, might be us playing our part in the natural order of things. We might have taken this to an unhealthy extreme by blocking wild nature out altogether in our living spaces, but for me this thought takes away some of the guilt of being human and having such a dramatic impact on the landscape.

I can already feel the urge to accumulate knowledge on how to garden well and learn all kinds of wonderful things about permaculture and other ways to minimize my effort, but before I do, I like to connect a little deeper to playing my part. So here is a little practice I have been trying out lately:

Every day, for an hour or so, be in the garden. Observe closely, focusing on your senses, trying to stay empty of thoughts not directly relating to what you experience in the moment. Allow yourself to be guided by your curiosity, taking you to a corner of the garden that seems interesting or in need of attention. It cannot hurt to talk to the plants, they seem to like it. Ask them what they need or tell them what you think they need. Then act accordingly, staying connected to your own sense of beauty and harmony. And when the hour is over, or any other time you set for yourself, simply walk away.

In the garden, try to avoid the desire to finish things, as gardening is a continuous process with no beginning or end. In my case, if I am driven by a desire for completion, I run the risk of becoming obsessive about whatever it is I am doing. For instance, I might be doing too much damage by pulling out all the weeds at once. Limiting my time in the garden allows nature to recover and find a new balance. So practice relaxing the urge for completion and enjoy the process itself. This does not just apply to gardening, obviously!

Enjoy your time in the garden and feel free to share your thoughts with me.