July 8, 2022
“Il faut cultivar notre Jardin.” (We must cultivate our garden) Voltaire
Gardening is one of the quickest ways for me to slip into flow, loose track of time and forget my worries. Over the years, I have planted flowers, herbs, vegetables, shrubs and even a tree. There is something about getting my hands in the dirt that is centering. It doesn’t even have to be a long stint in the garden to bring me mindfully back to the present.
The very first garden I attempted was with vegetable seeds I planted in my parent’s side yard when I was 10. I didn’t have a lot of luck producing edible veggies, but I learned a lot. I picked a partly shaded spot that had a little morning sun. It was on a rather steep slope, so after I cleared the area, turned over the soil and planted, some of my seeds washed away in the first heavy rainstorm. Scraggly little seedlings did emerge in time. They weren’t very hardly due to the poor soil and limited sunlight, but the carrots and radishes sent up greenery and the beans produced flowers. My visions of a luscious harvest were dashed when I pulled a few carrots and radishes after the recommended 60 days of growth. They were skinny, pitiful little things. I only harvested a handful of green beans, but they were the normal size and looked healthy.
Years later I tried my hand at growing herbs and flowers on the balcony of my apartment. They were more successful, and I enjoyed watering, deadheading blossoms and cooking with my chives, parsley, and basil. Ever since, I have had at least a few pots or hanging baskets to tend throughout the warm seasons in Richmond. As a homeowner, I have had an opportunity to create borders and beds for perennial and annual flowers. There were very few bulbs in my yard that came up the first Spring after I bought the house, so I ordered and planted 200. I added some azaleas, hydrangeas, hostas, and even planted a pin oak in honor of my father-in-law. It has been very gratifying to watch my gardens change and develop over the years.
No one truly loves weeding, but even that simple act will pull me out of my head and into the present moment. When I stoop to remove the unwanted plants, I am able to set aside the rude words said to me at work or the person who cut me off in traffic. As I work on small tasks like tying up tomatoes or trimming a shrub, I can see that my efforts make a difference and I feel in control of at least my garden at that moment. Before I know it, I am taking deeper breaths, stretching my limbs and I walk away feeling grounded. Having studied French in high school. I always hear Voltaire in my head as I weed and cultivate my vegetable garden.