Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks Given

On a day when we celebrate family and friendship and give thanks for all the things we have, I'd like to offer a thanks for the joys and lessons that our gardens bring us. For those of us with vegetable gardens, there is immediate gratitude for the bounty they provide. Be that leafy vegetables, herbs, fruit from bushes or from trees, root vegetables or fruit from vines, Mother Earth provides a plenitude of life nourishing food.
For those of us with primarily flower gardens, the rewards are no less real or varied. Living in the Bay Area we are spoiled without thinking about it on a daily basis. Walking around our cities, we can spot a great multitude of ornamental trees, be they evergreen or deciduous. It seems there is always something in bloom, even in the winter time. Unlike many parts of the country where winter arrives in November and spring doesn't show its colors until May, we have the perfect climate for a year round show. Whether we choose to reflect that year round bounty in our gardens, we need but take a stroll through our neighborhood to appreciate such diverse beauties.
I choose to garden year round and to populate my garden with a great variety of plants, meaning there is always something interesting to check on when I stroll out into the garden on my weekend. With your own garden you get to enjoy three essential elements. First and foremost, the garden is my sanctuary. Even though the front yard opens directly onto the street, it still provides a place to lose myself in. The side and back yards offer more privacy, lending those spaces a unique and intimate experience. Secondly, the garden is a place to work in, to put my hands in the soil, to tackle projects that ultimately will yield a soul-enriching satisfaction upon completion. In that way, the garden and I have formed a symbiotic relationship, each benefiting the other. This is gardening in motion, gardening as a languid push-pull and the garden as teacher. Stick with it long enough, pay attention and the garden allows for a multitude of teachable moments. That's not just some grand theory. The garden does indeed teach us about patience, perseverance, the need to pay attention to little signs lest something unfortunate happen; the lesson that one has to occasionally accept loss and start over; that the hard fought victories (such as bringing a plant back from the dead) can be the sweetest; that we can't despite our headstrong efforts control everything in our environment and, to me, the garden's most surprising lesson -- that gardens are a great deal more like humans than seems possible. We are both living organisms, needing nourishment and care, are more resilient than we think and we both respond to love.
Finally, a garden is a place to enjoy. That simple fact is often forgotten. One should not forget to enjoy everything about our gardens -- the visual beauty, the feel of the soil between our fingers, the wonderful fragrances both subtle and strong and the way the garden sings to us.
So, I leave you with these musings on this day of giving thanks, hoping that your garden gives you as much pleasure as mine does to me.

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