We might think that we are nurturing our garden, but of course
it's our garden that is really nurturing us.
~ Jenny Uglow
As I sat on my patio last week, enjoying the sunny day between storms, I took an inventory of all my potted plants and flowers. They had been hit hard by the string of freezing temperatures, as well as, the over-abundance of rain. I was surprised to find new tender green leaves and small buds beginning to show, with the realization that they had all made it through the tough winter.
With my cup of coffee in hand, I walked around and began mentally writing down which plants needed to be transplanted to larger pots and/or moved to a different location. I noted the ones that needed pruning, shaping, and dividing. They all needed feeding, plus some nice fresh cocoa mulch.
In late fall, I made sure they had been mulched and fertilized before the winter set in. I also moved some of the more fragile plants closer to the house for shelter. And, I made sure that I cleaned up around their bases and removed any dead leaves and flower. I refer to this as giving them “haircuts!” It didn’t seem like much, but it was enough to see them through this winter.
It didn't take long for my brain to travel from plant-care to my self-care - I found it very interesting!
As I studied each of my potted plants, I began to compare the needs of plants and people - the similarities were striking.
- Plants and people need a watering and feeding schedule.
- Plants and people need plenty of sunshine to keep them healthy.
- Plants and people require removal of the dead wood that can stop new growth.
- Plants and people need a good “haircut,” to give them a lift!
- Plants and people sometimes need to be transplanted, because they are either outgrown or are stymied by their surroundings.
- Plants and people need to be nurtured when they are young, so they can grow strong roots and withstand the elements in life.
- Plants and people come in all shapes and sizes, colors and textures, which add beauty and interest to all gardens of life.
- Plants and people need special care when recovering from disease, drought, and hunger.
- Plants and people will wither and die if they are neglected or forgotten, for too long.
- And lastly, plants and people need time and patience to grow and blossom.
“Nothing in nature blooms all year –
Be patient with yourself.”
Plants and flowers naturally accept dormancy in the winter, in preparation for a new birth in the Spring. All season long they rest and accept whatever nature produces. Then, when the timing is just right, slowly, but surely, new growth begins to appear. This is an area where people differ from plants.
People seem to think that there is never a time to be quiet and just be. Dormancy to most folks is like the beginning of the end. If they aren’t blooming, producing, or creating, then somehow they aren’t living. It’s like they are afraid that if they take some time to slow down, they will get root-rot, black mold, and blight!
Okay, maybe not blight, but you know what I mean. We all know someone, or we are the someone, who can’t seem to give themselves a break, even if it is good for their overall condition!
Instead of understanding that nothing in nature blooms all year long, it’s like they fear that they won’t measure up, won’t make the grade, or simply will be forgotten if they take time out to nurture themselves.
Some folks never cut themselves or anyone else any slack and they resent the people who actually understand the need for self-care and downtime.
Others, know how important it is to take care of themselves, they just don’t do it. These folks are full of advise but don’t seem to apply it to themselves. I’ve definitely been guilty of all of these at different times in my life.
Of course, plants don’t have to live in a competitive, complicated world that we, humans live in. But, I believe, plants and flowers are one of many examples we are given to teach us how to care for ourselves and others in this all-consuming universe.
Personally, I often take my health and well-being for granted, thinking that I will take care of myself more after I take care of others. Or, I will eat better and exercise more once I get a good routine going. And, as for all those words of encouragement – I will speak them once I’ve lost all the weight, let go of the past (one more time) and gain perfect wisdom!?! I need to take some lessons from my gardening practices!
By now, you probably figured out that I really enjoy caring for my plants and flowers. I’ve even spoken encouraging words to them while feeding and watering. I like to think that their responses come in the form of beautiful rich colors, large blossoms, and an array of healthy green textures. I’m not crazy or lonely – I’m just passionate!
How about you?
- Are you a gardener that feeds and waters your plants better than you feed and water yourself?
- Do you soak up the sunshine whenever possible, turning your face to the light?
- From time to time, do you cut out the dead wood, old stories, and bad habits, to live a healthier, happier life?
- Have you outgrown your surroundings, or are you feeling stymied with the circumstances of your life?
- Are you doing all you can to nurture and care for yourself in positive ways?
- Do you give yourself time to rest and rejuvenate, so you are ready for the next season of your life?
- Do you talk to your plants and flowers? I hope you do!
I love the analogy between plants and people. Like so much in nature, if you take the time, you begin to see these comparisons in other areas of life. Slow down and look around - you will be amazed!
As, for me, the sun just came out after a morning of rain. I’m going to put on my sneakers, grab a water, and get outside for some self-care. Before I know it, I will be back walking daily, feeling a bit lighter and breathing easier!
And my garden will grow with more plants, flowers, and the addition of raised beds of herbs and vegetables. Oh, the conversations I will have!