This summer I ran a gardening business on Martha's Vineyard. I designed and maintained flower gardens, window boxes, and some small vegetable gardens as well. Now since my gardening career is temporarily over, (hello fall!) I have been reflecting on what I've learned. Plants, flowers and nature can teach you a great deal, without you even being aware. Sometimes it takes reflection to be able to put words to feelings and lessons.
1. Gardening is hard work. It is fun and beautiful getting to watch flowers grow, but most of the time gardening is: weeding a shell driveway, deadheading everything, watering, and making many trips to the dump. It is not glamorous. It is very humbling. And I have permanent dirt in my finger nails.
2. You reap what you sow. So literally. In order to enjoy the beautiful flowers, see their vibrant colors, and to continue to watch them bloom over and over again, it takes hard work. Dirty work. Discomfort. Uncertainty. Lots of attention, love, sun and water. The more beauty you give, the more beauty you receive.
3. Wealth does not equal happiness. Duh. It is so often that the people who have smaller gardens, who have a tight budget on what they can afford, show appreciation for what they have. There are people who have endless amounts of money, and land, that can afford to buy anything in the world, but can not appreciate the new color of petunias in their garden. Everything is ugly if you choose to look at it that way. And there is beauty in everything if you chose to look at it that way.
4. After a flower has died, it starts to turn brown and you have to cut it off (aka deadheading.) If you don’t cut it off the plant will continue to give energy to the dead flower, taking away energy that could be used to grow new and beautiful flowers. As soon as you cut off that dead flower, the energy is used to create many new flowers, allowing the plant to flourish. Lets all do some more deadheading. Stop giving energy to something that doesn’t benefit you, and in turn you will begin to move your energy towards new and beautiful things, allowing you to flourish.
5. Everyone should have a garden at some point in their life. It is invaluable to be able to see where our food comes from, and the amount of work it takes to grow just one tomato. It takes patience, and you become proud of every healthy leaf and colorful flower that you assisted in growing. Plants depend on you, and you have the means to help them succeed. Its really a generous and fair relationship between human and plant.
These are my life lessons from gardening. Plants are so deep.