A garden is a lot like life. Come to think of it, on a list of silly things to say, that would rank quite high because a garden is life.
Perhaps what I really want to say is that the lessons one learns in a garden are lessons that pertain to the rest of one’s life, too.
Lesson one: You get what you get and what you get is not always what you deserve. You can work hard and do everything right — or as right as you know how to do — and still get the wrong results. I have mentioned that on one side of my path, the grass is bright green and healthy, while on the other side of the path, a mere three feet away, the grass is dead. Both areas of grass were treated exactly the same, and yet the results were completely different.
Lesson two: If you’ve done everything you know how to do, then you have no other recourse except to accept what you have. For now, I have no choice but to accept the dead grass because I can’t do anything about it. Come fall, I can reseed, but until then, I have to accept that, whether I enjoy the looks of the grass or not, it’s what I have. I can be glad, I suppose, that the grass is simply brown and not overrun with weedy grasses like the section of lawn right next to the dead patch.
Lesson three: Take care of that which you can, and if things grow out of your control, do the best you can with that, too. I got rid of some of the sunflowers that planted themselves in my yard because they grew around one of my baby plum trees, but other sunflowers I let go, and now they are too big to deal with. The stalks are as big as my arm and taller than the garage next door. The best thing I can do, I suppose, is wait until fall and hack them off at the base when they die.
Lesson four: Be patient. So many things are growing out of control (my tomato and tomatillo plants are growing so big and so fast they seem to be taking over the garden areas where they were planted) that I feel like ripping them out in preparation for fall clean-up, but we still have a lot of summer left, and despite the relatively cool days we are currently experiencing, I’m sure there is a lot of heat ahead of us. And anyway, there are still blossoms on the tomato plants, so perhaps I will still have a small harvest. On the other hand, some plants grow so slowly they don’t seem worth having, but again, there is still a lot of summer left, so if I am patient, there might still be some color to show for all my care.
Lesson five: Don’t be intimidated. I must admit, plants that seem to be growing hugely due to the rain and the other growth-inducing weather we’ve been having, intimidate me. I’m not sure what I think they can do other than tower over me, but apparently, I’ve read too many plant-based horror stories over the years to be comfortable with looming plants. Still, in the real life of my garden, I tend to think I have the upper hand.
Lesson six: Some things live, and some things die. Eventually, of course everything dies, but no matter how much we might want something to live, its survival is not always in our control. Actually, this is a lesson I learned in life that I am applying to my garden rather than a lesson I learned in my garden that I am applying to my life, but either way, it’s a good thing to remember.
I’m sure there are other lessons, but these are the lessons that seem to concern me most right now. Let’s hope I learn what I need to.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.