I empathise of course, and understand that if you’ve not been bitten by the bug, you may feel that gardening just isn’t for you. You may simply feel happy with a pot plant or two, and in keeping the yard tidy, but you wouldn’t consider yourself a gardener – and that’s fine.
But what if I was to suggest that by stepping into a gardener’s boots, or at least adopting a gardener’s mindset you could transform not only your gardening, but the way you approach life generally?!
Life is complex, I understand that, and you might have so many plates to spin that there doesn’t appear to be any spare capacity to dwell on things like gardening. But let’s hold things there for a moment. Let me offer some very real benefits that can come from looking at this subject from a new perspective.
To support my point I am drawn to a quote from the writer, artist and gardener Gertrude Jekyll, who practised in the latter half of the 1800s and early 1900s. The quote contains some very wise words learned through a life in gardening:
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”
Jekyll’s words like a fresh breeze describe for me the far reaching benefits that gardens offer, along with some of the core actions unwittingly adopted by those who benefit the most from gardening.
Let’s look first at Teaching, patience, and careful watchfulness. In short, I’m using these words to remind me of the gardening mistakes I’ve made; of the valuable lessons I’ve learned through some incredible teachers and situations; and of the steadiness and calmness gained from working with the seasons. All of these experiences have impacted me personally, on my work and thought processes, and have given benefits far beyond gardening itself.
But what of Industry, thrift, and trust; what do these tools bring to the gardener’s mindset? The former two connect me positively with the doing, not just with the actions and skills but the mental resourcefulness a gardener or horticulturist must develop to turn out the complex thing that a garden is. They remind me of machinery failures and weather challenges, of when people have let me down or pests gained the advantage, or when the going was just incredibly tough. Industrious attitudes and thriftiness therefore, along with those others have seen me adapt and survive.
I’m still left with the latter word trust of course, or entire trust to be precise. This I believe is the key attribute or glue which holds together all my gardening ambitions, in fact most things in life when I come to think of it.
Few gardeners will stand back from a freshly planted sapling and speak words of trust, indeed the nearest I’ve ever heard after some tree planting was “now grow yer bugger!”
Yet, when a gardener plants something, their actions in selecting the right plant for the place, in using the latest known planting technique, in carefully spreading its roots and tying-in its delicate stems, and in its ongoing watering and tending for me lead to Jekyll’s words entire trust. All those physical actions lead to a point when, even though the gardener told the plant to grow, he had to resort to trusting and believing that all would be well.
So what do Gertrude’s words and all that gardening activity bring us?
To trust in something, a garden or gardening in this case is the ability to have faith; because deep down we know that few things in life are guaranteed. To trust or to have faith therefore is a very personal element in a gardener’s toolkit that is needed, and which could be said to underpin the previously mentioned patience, careful watchfulness, industry and thrift.
Faith, hope, confidence, call it what you will, but ‘trust’ in gardening and in many ways of life – is essential. If a plant fails, we learn from the experience, as we learn from all other experiences in life. A gardener can be housebound with dark skies outside and rain beating on the windows, yet peer out into the garden and see plants enjoying their fill of fresh water. They’ll know instinctively that days ahead will be brighter, new days will come, flowers will shine and fruits will follow.
To this end, I’d like to leave you with the idea that whilst you may not be encouraged to pick up a spade straight after closing this post, that you might consider looking at things as a gardener can. I’d suggest putting my words aside and taking a closer look at Gertrude’s quote to see if you can draw any parallels, and to see if you’re already thinking as many gardeners do.
And finally, I’d like to suggest that gardening is about more than simply growing plants. Gardening develops into a way of living that can, if we let it, cultivate our mind as well as our green fingers and green spaces.
Don’t get confused with all the garden jargon. Give growing a go if you can, trust in your garden, and develop trust in yourself – it’ll all be OK in the end!