27 May 2011

I edit the garden. A long time ago, I used that phrase writing to the Findhorn email group. It describes the act more like modifying sentences, changing words, and clarifying ideas than merely weeding, planting, and pruning. Gardening as metaphor, gardening as meditation, gardening as the way to a middle path. Gardening is so good for me.

I've always had some garden in front of the houses that I've lived in but in Madison my front garden, the garden beds between the sidewalk and the street are my primary gardens. And they have suffered since I moved into this house almost four years ago. The formers gardener had put lots of plants into those beds but did not have much design sense, and did not think about how big plants would grow, or how tall, or how trees would turn sunny beds to shade gardens. And that gardener moved houses sufficiently before I moved in to start a cycle of ignore the front garden beds that has grown to be a normal over the past few years.

I watched the first garden cycle from summer to summer to see what came up where. The jumble of plants without a plan stymied me some. The lack of rich earth where grass was dug up and garden plants put did not encourage growth. A few easy flower-ers were also too aggressive crowding everything and anything put in their paths. The sun garden turned shady spot languished after the trees leafed out, and the hot summer sun baked the dirt to clay with no cover.

I mulched that first summer and set up a compost bin -- too over a compost bin, rather. A bin that possibly had never really been emptied. I started my own earth enrichment of mulching in the summer and putting down a layer of compost in the late fall. I was waiting for worms.

And during this time, I was feeling my own angst and I don't garden well with angst. I was trying to figure Julia out, I was trying to find a job, I was trying to find some sort of path of bliss that unfortunately did not include the practice of law. And I didn't garden well during all of that time. And then came last year -- David sick, David dead -- and again, I did not garden well during that year. But I mulched and composted.

And all this time, I had a very public garden. Not something hidden behind the house with a few evergreen protecting my gardening pride, in fact, no evergreens at all on this tiny plot of land. This spring I've ventured outside, finally, to find better soil, worms, and a garden with a voice. I've moved a few things, added a few more, culled back aggressive invaders, and did some retro-design. I've mulched a little bit and have much more to do, and for the first time, I feel like this garden is looking like the garden of a gardener. And for the first time since I've moved to Madison, I don't mind that my garden is in the front of the house for all the world to see. Yes, a bit of ego and some pride, but both of those have been battered around for some time now. I had even been wondering if I was still a gardener.

I am returning to myself and changing radically, and for me, it is all about editing the garden.

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