The Country Garden

I hope one day my internal world may become like the quintessential country garden. To the external spectator it presents a riot of colour, untamed beauty and freedom. However, behind the scenes there is an experienced overseer, tending to the plants and flowers within.

Gardens are susceptible to the influences of climate, seasons, and weather. They are transient, and not always predictable, or welcome. However, all offer fresh opportunities.

For example:

A warm, sunny day allows moments for production and growth.

Rain offers replenishment to the thirsty.

Strong winds, and lightning though potentially destructive, are thankfully short lived. The damage they create can feel despairing, but sometimes new opportunities arise for planting and repair.

Snow and ice, though bitter and inhospitable can be weathered with preparation, and investment in time to rest.

The earth needs nurturing soil, and awareness of the things that grow there.

Wild weeds are generally undesirable, but inevitable. Also, compared to their delicate, propagated cousins they tend to be more resilient and hardy. A vigilant, experienced gardener needs to spot these unwelcome guests early and pluck them out before they become established. If the process is avoided or neglected, weeds have roots designed to quickly dig deep or entwine amongst neighbours to make extraction challenging, effortful, and more complex.

Sometimes after weeding, a stubborn root remnant remains like an indelible stain. A conscientious gardener needs to remember the place, and make regular visits to check for almost certain return.

Other unwelcome guests include parasites such as aphids; they relentlessly consume and devour. A gardener might stoop down and happen upon a rose stem lost amongst a moving blanket of insects. The sight can leave them horrified, transfixed, and unable to widen their gaze.

A mindful gardener however, stands up and takes in the whole view. Familiar with Natural Order, they feel reassured by the presence of ladybirds, bees, and other wildlife that protect and support growth.

Sometimes, however, balance and harmony tip into destruction. This could be the result of distraction, neglect, or a series of unpredictable events unplanned, unanticipated and beyond control. In these situations, external support is needed. This might involve use of chemicals, and/or the guidance of another wise and experienced gardener.

All of this vigilance, repetition, learning, building, repairing, planning, careful acceptance and understanding can be exhausting. It is no doubt effortful, but also its own reward. Even gardeners with skill, expertise, and experience need to take care of their health and well-being so they can manage expectations of themselves accordingly.

So next time you pass a country garden on a Summer’s day, and delight in the explosion of colour contained by gracefully ageing stone walls — take a moment to appreciate the years spent, and time taken to cultivate such a display for you to enjoy.

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