My (reluctant then jubilant!) Gardening Initiation

 I’m 56 and I’ve never really gardened. I’ve grown plants, sort of. Including an attempt at a tomato plant or two. This isn’t due to lack of interest perse, it is because there is only so much time in a day and I’ve never been lacking in finding other awesome ways to max out that time.

But gardening is a grand way to commune with nature, you say.
Prior to literally playing in the dirt, I’ve not had a shortage of getting down and dirty with nature! So gardening has always been on the back burner.

Even though its February, ‘it’ thinks its spring here in Santa Cruz, so for the past month or so in the evenings I’ve headed out for a couple hours to get to know the plants in my yard.

First came pruning. Pruning became full blown assault on some unruly bushes that were very overdone IMG_6027and needed to be taken out. I learned I love pruning. Specifically, I thrive on the pure physicality (and awesome workout) in uprooting very old embedded roots and woody branches. At first I was sore from doing an activity I wasn’t accustomed to (love that). Within a day or two I felt stronger (love that even more).

Since its (supposed to be) the off-season for roaming around on foot or bike for extended periods, my activity level is much less than usual. So I easily took to the physicality of pruning. Which ultimately became a serious yard overhaul.

While pruning and repotting plants, I took on a new found admiration for roots. I could see through various root systems how a plant will bend itself to survive and thrive. I spent hours digging and observing. Sitting and admiring the power of a root system.

The saw came out. Multiple shovels joined the party (because I kept breaking them). I wore out 3 pairs of gloves. I bought clippers because my huge loppers were kinda daunting when finesse was needed. And before I knew it I was formulating a grand plan for a tiny patch of yard.

I have various collections from my extensive travels; two of them being, masks and vases. The other objects I’ve collected are rocks, shells and bones. Much to the chagrin of some friends, it is common for me to bring back large rocks in my suit case. Some which have been painted by students at the handicraft school in Bhutan. I have rocks and shells from too many countries to list here, in addition to bones and other precious stones and crystals I’ve found ‘along the way’. I have items with symbols representative of a location, i.e. a ceramic clamshell from the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain, a Buddha statue from Bhutan, a rock with a yin/yang symbol embossed in it from Bali, a nautilus shell from the Outback of Australia.

I decided to bring all of these treasures together in a (very short) journey, which would culminate under my orange tree, where Buddha would be sitting. Being the philosopher who’s teachings logically entwine humanity, Buddha’s dominant presence in my international garden made the most sense.

My ‘international rock garden’ has turned into a garden art project and an ode to my mom as items she collected also have a strong presence there. And because mom would love how I created ‘the way’ to Buddha as an international celebration of items from around the globe.

One of the things I’ve become clear on while spending time in Bhutan is that symbols can ground us. Create an intension. Generate a mind set. I created the rock garden as a symbol of peace. When I look at it, I feel just that. Each hour I worked on it, sifting rocks, cutting back plants, planting new ones, organizing drip systems or just sitting and visualizing the outcome, I created the intension that the garden would be a place of peace and tranquility. Bringing nations symbolically together in an eeny weenie space in nature, for reflection.

Thinking your yard is too small or you don’t know how to work the dirt? IMG_6042
Think again. Create an intension. Then just begin.

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