Monday, June 09, 2008

garden therapy

my garden has been one important area of my life needing some attention lately

and why I didn't get out there earlier in this particular "down" cycle I don't know, given that i know how much better the process always makes me feel

it is so therapeutic

not just the mud and effort and sweat and dirty fingernails
not just the colours and greens and textures and smells and buzzings and birdsongs and petals and leafy shoots

it soothes my spirit
and speaks to me in unexpected ways.

Part of the therapy is unthinking absorption in the green and the growing and the dirt

- like being in another world.
or just being out of the world for a while.
or maybe out of myself, in The world... hmmm...

Part of the therapy is a sort of earth wisdom which oozes its way gently in through some kind of osmosis.

- think about these aspects of my recent gardening as metaphors for living:

* my garden has been awash with forget-me-nots.
They are finished now, needed to be cleared and if not cleared they tend get mildew. It is almost impossible (if thats what one wanted, which i don't) to remove them without their seed scattering, ready for next year's tidal wave of little blue loveliness. While other plants grow, flower and fruit during the summer, they'll be there dormant waiting for autumn and next spring.

* Taking out the forget-me-nots always creates so much space for other plants, and in the process I always discover some I had forgotten, and some I'd thought might not survive the winter. If I was a more regular and thorough gardener, I might sacrifice some of these unexpected (re-)discoveries.
(my salvia uliginosa has survived the winter. I am very happy)

* Some plants are flourishing because I moved them to locations and next to other plants with which they are happier. Some plants hate to be moved and might never recover. On the other hand, some (such as larkspur) are happiest in recently disturbed ground. Go figure.

* I think I have given up on growing helenium in my garden. Much as I love it, it seems that my soil and situation just don't give it what it needs :o( Sometimes nature can't be persuaded.

* the crambe which I was given years ago - and which has been stamped on (repeatedly) (not by me) during fence-repairs, eaten by slugs and snails, neglected and forgotten about - is finally doing well, producing its massive umbrella leaves and might even flower this year. It had the persistence - just needed time to get going :o)

* I have no tadpoles this year. This makes me sad but my source of last year's frogspawn also has none this year. So I can't import any more, I will just have to wait for them to arrive as part of the natural cycle. Where there is water, there will be frogs - I just need to be patient.

* pruning. Some plants really wont flourish without it, they get leggy and ungainly and feeble and may even become bare, woody and dead on the inside, despite their leafy facade. Sometimes ruthlessness is needed.

* the all-engulfing too-vociferous tree ivy which was constantly threatening to engulf the fence at the end of my garden - the fence and my girl-shed and some cherished plants - is finally close to being defeated. This is because new neighbours on the other side of the fence are also trying to control or uproot it. It was a problem which really needed to be addressed on both sides.

Sometimes its just too much bloody wisdom all at once and then I have to come and sit at my computer for a while, surrounded by technology....


Lynne said...

Yes, letty how very deep. People are a lot like plants in many ways. Some need to be controlled and kept in check, while other do better with more freedom.

I know I seem to thrive better when I am picked up and moved to "new" soil every now and then. :)

Some relationships that are not working need to be "weeded out" so others can take their place and bring new joy, or others that have been there all the while can be rediscovered.

Bloom where you are planted.

Glad to hear you're coming out of your slump!

Reya Mellicker said...

What a beautiful post, so inspiring! The natural world does contain all the wisdom we could ever hope for.

The pictures are exquisite! That last one with the blue flowers and nice shadows? Gorgeous!

I love thinking of you out there with your hands in the dirt. I salute you!! Much love to you, too.

Sally Crawford said...

That is beautiful, Lettuce, from all those flowers and that lovely healthy grass in the first pic, through all your words, to the final pic of those forget-me-nots (if that's what they are) against the paving.

And right on about the earth wisdom

Akelamalu said...

You have a lot to do Lettie, I'm sure you'll get round to it all. We have forget-me-nots too, they take over don't they?

Pecos Blue said...

Wow looks great to me. We had to let our garden go because we are gone for the summer. But oh how I wish. The lupine are in bloom here and they are lovely.

take care

Lee's River said...

clicking through your links on this post, I met up with none other than my old friend, baba yaga. Specially meaningful to me since the Russian version of Vasilisa the Beautiful happens to be sitting on my desk at the moment - a Russian reproduction of the original copy with Bilibin's illustrations.
Salutations from the other side of the Channel.
(your photos and words of wisdom are lovely, lettuce)

Trac said...

Every time I come here, according to your neo counter thing, I appear from a different town in Essex!?

Yay! I'm an Essex Girl! :O)

Lovely post and lovely pics. I especially like the last one.


Anonymous said...

Love forget-me-nots, I had them in my bridal bouquet 34 years ago(artificial ones) and I love walking in the countryside and seeing these very small flowers and their wonderful colour. Your garden looks beautiful, so natural and relaxing.

Steve said...

Oh, I wish I could garden. :(

(I can't even have a potted plant on my fire escape because it's against building rules -- can you believe that??)

I love your photos and the stories about all your different plants. Thanks for letting me have a vicarious garden experience. :)

Steve said...

p.s. -- And yes, no question there is much to learn through nature!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

connecting with one's garden is truly the best salve for whatever ails one.

I love forget-me-nots. my current garden doesn't have any (yet) but past gardens have been awash in them. one year I went on a flower pressing craze. forget-me-nots are wonderful for pressing.

I wonder where my flower press is?

dennis said...

Dennis gave up on Heleniums too. Dennis finds himself moving plants, esp roses, into the sunshine as every year the hardwood trees get bigger and cast more shade.

lettuce said...

"bloom where you are planted" - thats a nice way to put it lynne.

Reya i fondly remember smelling the roses and marvelling at the peonies with you in DC

sally i've mowed away most of the lovely long grass - sadly, but it gets nasty and full of snails and cat poo otherwise :o/ but i left one patch which is full of dog daisies

lamalu, i'm rather happy to let the forget-me-nots take over, just for a while

p-blue, sorry i've not visited lately, i will - nice to have you back. Lupins are lovely, i had a garden literally full of them once in the NE of England.

lee, baba yaga rocks.

trac thats strange. I've been appearing lately as Sevenoaks. Kent girl me, clearly.

lusks, forget-me-nots would be perfect in a bridal bouquet!

Steve, that is really harsh. Would a hanging plant be against the regs too? i'd be tempted to encourage some invasive ivy or something if i were you. Glad to share my garden virtually - maybe you'll come and sit in it one day?

kimy i used to be a menace to books, pressing leaves and flowers in them....i have some books with the marks still left behind, and just occasionally i pick up a book and something lovely flutters out

I wonder if Dennis is a ruthless or a permissive gardener?

la bellina mammina said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your garden, Lettie! It's so beautiful and tranquil and the flowers are gorgeous. I am just so jealous!

Lib said...

I like planting trees best, and annuals. and tall grasses. and vines.

ramblingwoman said...

Hi Letty!

Your garden is looking lovely. I'd forgotton about that red one at the front of the border - what is it again and can I nab some for my garden?

See you tomorrow!

Pod said...

little moth loved forgetmenots. her eyes where the same colour. we used to make bookmarks out of them and cellotape.

no tears in the tadpole pool this year then...oh! and they were so quietly undersatnding and supportive last year....

lettuce said...

Bella it is lovely in an unkempt sort of way.

i'm more a fan of annuals than perennials lib - would be a fan of tree-planting and vines if i had a bigger garden (though now i think about it i have planted 5 trees. little ones)

RW course you can, i'll try and bring some tomorrow.

aaah pod, forget-me-not eyes.
maybe the frogs didn't like the saltiness...

kate smudges said...

Your garden is a delightful place ... and everything you said about gardening so resonates with me. It is the one thing in my life that I never stress about ... refuse to stress if I don't get things done as I should. I've discovered that sometimes lovely surprises await me when I've neglected to do something. Nothing quite moves us into a different dimension than working with plants, listening to the birds at the same time and having our fingernails encrusted with dirt.

natural attrill said...

Just seen the photograph - WOW! the forget-me-knots and the colour and shadow on the ground - just beautiful.