The Garden Analogy ~ Life through a Gardener’s Eyes


But always, to her, red and green cabbages were to be jade and burgundy, chrysoprase and prophyry. Life has no weapons against a woman like that.”
~ Edna Ferber

 “I lie back. It seems as if the whole world were flowing and curving — on the earth the trees, in the sky the clouds. I look up, through the trees, into the sky. The clouds lose tufts of whiteness as the breeze dishevels them. If that blue could stay for ever; if that hole could remain for ever; if this moment could stay for ever.”
~ Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Almost anything you need to learn in life, you can learn from a garden…

When I was a little child, I couldn’t wait to be in the old-pines forest behind my mother’s workplace (she used to be drafter and designer who would populate botanic books for a big agriculture-biotechnical governmental institution in Argentina)…there, I would lay under the tree canopy and dream I was somebody else’s dream…I couldn’t wait either to go to the eucalyptus forest where we would walk every afternoon collecting leaves, sticks and pebbles…or to the daisy field where a solitary ombu tree (my best friend) would wait for me to lay down and watch the sky for hours, surrounded by giant daisies, dandelions and humming bees…

…I couldn’t have enough either from watching mom transforming Indian ink into beautiful details of leaves, stems and roots and how those drawings she made by watching through a microscope would end up in books and posters…

One of my favourite times in childhood was visiting my cousins: antie N. Wouldn’t care about us playing with earth worms and mud and replanting weeds…eating flowers and leaves and jumping together in the bathtub after all that mess…(every child in this world should have an antie like her)

With mom, I learned to watch plants and Nature with curiosity, through science but also with sacred respect to all processes and life. I learned not to be scared or disgusted by worms, bugs, compost or even waste as all contains or feeds life.

Animals don’t do gardening: human beings are the only ones who intentionally plan, plant, tend and live off gardens.

However, you can see society reflected on how people see gardening: you have the ones who say they love life but don’t garden “because they don’t have time”, you have those who couldn’t care less about gardening “that’s not my thing”, you have those who pay others to create and maintain a beautiful garden for them “because my garden reflects my status and I have money to pay for it”, you have those who don’t want anybody touching their garden and those who are in joy when they show you their gardens, you have those who see garden as a business “how much is the return on my investment” and those who see gardening only as a pastime with no practical use; you have the ones who garden only for food and those who garden for joy and sharing. You have the ones who start community gardens and the ones who wait till they are built so they can join and you have the ones who don’t care about community gardens, those who despise them and those who actively steal or destroy them…

You can tell a lot about somebody’s personality and values for the way their gardens look, the way they embrace (or not) gardening and the types of gardens they like…

In a garden, you learn so many things…

…that when you leave the soil bare, weeds will colonize it (think about the places, the processes and the peoples we abandon and leave “bare” out there and how they are colonized by tyrants, dictatorships, wars, poverty and so on…)

…that when you take your time to listen and observe what’s going on in the garden, your garden skills become stronger and you find that you require less work and enjoy more; but that when you try to impose your design and wishes on a patch of land, it may require more effort, you may have more pests and weeds and plants illnesses and the garden may look more artificial (think about how imposing our ideas to peoples, landscapes and entire cultures have caused collapse and misery…even when we try to impose love or friendship on others)

…that when you start looking at the intrinsic function and value of each garden’s inhabitant, all the concepts around weeds, pests, waste and illnesses change and you start understanding the value of diversity and balance and stop trying to control everything (think about how we create monsters and send them to jail or throw them in asylums or to the edges of societies and then we are scared of them or worse: treat them as powerless victims who we need to “fix”)

…that seeds carry all life, including ours and for that alone, they are sacred and should be saved: think about how we discriminate and decide about which life has value and which hasn’t, which can be “used” to test or eat or for fun or which can be rejected or abandoned…think about how we decide that our keeping ourselves warm or cool, our going faster to places is more important than the climate change causing entire communities flood or draught and to be displaced or starve)

…that everything is food for everything in a garden and each organism (even those “without life” such as rocks, wind, water or the slope of the landscape or the shadow or the sunny side) has multiple functions and “jobs” and creates or is part of different structures that are all interlinked and necessary (think diversity of people, diversity of languages and cultures and those who think more, write more or plan more are as necessary as those who act more, grow more or care more)

…that life cycles and re-cycles endlessly and that all passes (think how we waste and throw “away” things, think how we become overwhelmed when we lose little battles and forget that after every winter, spring is sure to follow…)

…that biodiversity is the life of a garden: and that when you start mono crops you are invaded by pests and diseases and more work to water and weed…(and that life and cultures, when diverse and changing are resilient and rich and full of wonders…while “mono-crops” in human societies and life are synonym of drudgery, boredom and dullness)

…that we usually treat our gardens as we treat ourselves and those we love most and that gardens reflect the same symptoms people and communities and huge landscapes show when given the same treatment

…that love and curiosity never end as no matter how much time you spend in your garden, it will always surprise you and it will always have a new gift for you…

…that you can pay somebody else to design and tend your garden, but then it will be artificial and won’t reflect who you are…and that when your money ends your garden will die…

in this earth
in this earth
in this immaculate field
we shall not plant any seeds
except for compassion
except for love

~Rumi

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About Silvia TIC

Welcome to these exercises inside the dimensions of what we are: we are what we dream and think and feel, but we are also the different characters we perform, not just the roles (mother, wife, friend), but those things we call “occupations” or “earning a life”. More than anything, we are part of a giant ecosystem and all what we do connects and impacts others (people, animals, plants, air, water...)

Posted on February 23, 2014, in About Silvia, Community, Community Building, Community Gardens, Community Resilience, Environmental Issues, Food Security, Forests, Friendship, Future, Gardening, Gift Economy, Giving, Growing Food, Life Choices, No Waste Living, Permaculture, Resilience, Resilient Living and Choices, Right Livelihood, Sharing Economy, Simply Living, Social Justice, Spiritual Journeys, Sustainable Living, Transition. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Oh so true to walk the garden of a person you learn so much about them:-) I find that my garden is “evolving” as I grow with it each year..it is a journey and one of the few places I feel like a child again:-) It is the first place I learned about my world + a place I feel safe:-)

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    • Thanks Robbie…I also love my garden and being in other gardens as well…It makes me feel free and connected at the same time…are those beautiful pictures you have in your blog from your garden? I’m not a good photographer…wish I could post pictures like those! 🙂

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      • I love the way you put into words everything I would like to express:-) You have a gift for writing and inspiring others to think. Yes, those are pictures from my urban potager. I am a visual learner ( if you believe in Howard Gardners intelligences:) + love being outside. I love getting up close to nature + to me the beauty in nature is fine art! Enjoy your blog:-)

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      • 🙂

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