Continually Changing The Landscape: Gardening for Personal Development

I had a really good time in the garden yesterday morning.  A gal pal came by to get some plants for her yard.  Since the big shade is over my house once again after the freeze, I had all sorts of plants that needed full sun and had to be dug up and moved.  So we’re moving them to her yard.  I get a lot of enjoyment out of my yard.  It can be as much work as I want it to be, and as much fun as I want it to be.  At this point, I seldom buy new plants, I’m usually just moving them from one place in the yard to another.  That in itself can be a full time job.

I’ve designated one shady nook as the plant nursery, and I stick cuttings in there to root, since it gets no direct sunlight.  I’ve already got 3 mulberry stalks rooting, so I’m watching them carefully.  I have been doing heavy watering of the jatropha curcus, that is a small almond like nut, and have a whole line of them clear across the property in the front to the east.  We dug up some small ones for my pal, also, I’ve never tried transplanting them, so we’ll see how it goes.

We gave her a half dozen more loquat tree babies.  The ones she took last month have already grown like a foot.  This is the season for them to really take off.  I get so many of them here, since they drop from the trees.  Sometimes I just have to pull the seedlings out by the handfuls and discard them, otherwise I’d live in a loquat forest.  Which actually sounds kind cool.  Except then I’d be overrun with critters always feasting on them, which means being overrun with critter poop.  Ok, ix-nay on the loquat forest.

In my 20’s and 30’s in Miami, FL, I lived in apartments and condos and was glad to have no yard duties.  I wasn’t into it much then, I was definitely an in-the-city girl.  But now I see the beauty of having a yard.  I see it as a creative expression, since I can plant things where I want, and create paths and trails and line up steps this way and that way.  I can weave a wall here for privacy, or move the birdbath back out into the sunshine.  I can decide what I get to see when I look out my windows, and I can design little vignettes here and there in the yard just to delight my eye.

I can decide where I want trees for shade and where I want that swing to hang in 5 years’ time.  I can design trails and plant hedges on either side of them, crisscrossing back and forth across the yard so I have a private hiking trail of my own this time next year.  I can make a small firepit area, and stick a chimenea in there, or a small cast iron firepit.  I can set a chair or 2 next to it and have a nice place to sit in the evening.

I have a rustic homemade deck of sorts in the garden.  It is 3 rows of 4 cinder blocks each, on top of which is a section of wood fencing.  On top of the fencing are long strips of 1×4’s, the length of the fence/deck.  It is hidden in a corner, behind the privacy fence out front.  I keep a low plastic lawn chair on top of it and I sit out there in the evening sometimes, just watching the birds and squirrels do their dance.

Out under the sprawling shade of the big oak in the back west yard is a wrought iron table and two chairs, and lately that’s where big kitty Izzy likes to lie.  I sit out there with him sometimes, this is where I can watch the moonrise in fall and winter.  In spring and summer, I have to watch from the front yard, since the moon is so far south this time of year.

That’s another thing I like to do, is take note what cycle the moon is in, and watch it as it crosses the sky at night.  In the cool weather, I often tent camp in my yard.  I love the sound at night, even just 50 feet from the house, under the canopy at night, the woods come alive with animal sounds, crickets, owls hooting, doves cooing, the nightly parade of the armadillos, raccoons, opossums.  You can tell when an intruder steps into the area because all the sounds go quiet.  I love being out there.  I have as good a campsite as I can get at any Florida state park.

But gardening is not just a creative pasttime for me.  It also helps in my personal development.  Having a yard that lets me continually change the landscape as I please gives me a big feeling of managing something big in my life, and doing it in accord with Mother Nature.  It helps me feel connected to the Earth and the natural rhythms of the Universe: the seasons, the moon phases, the planetary aspects, all constantly changing.   It helps me feel connected to Whoever or Whatever is out there, and the more connected I feel, the less of a name I need to give it.

As I learn to be flexible and work harmoniously in the garden, I know I am really not in complete control but that I can learn to surf and dance in the midst of whatever Mother Nature throws at me. This helps me see the corelation with personal situations and relationships as well.  It helps me see what areas I’ve left parched and what needs weeding.  It teaches me the value of planning for the long term.

It teaches me cause and effect, and that seeds scattered carelessly now will grow nonetheless, so be sure I plant seeds only with purpose.  It teaches me I can rebuild after total devastation.  It teaches me that tender new growth can appear in the most unlikely places, at the most unlikely times.  It teaches me to expect change and be delighted about it.

It teaches me to love it all, at every stage, because it will continually be changing.

RELATED: Earth Day in the garden
A beautiful full moon Tuesday
What I did this full moon evening
Sitting in the woods at midnight

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