7 Thoughts on Gardening and Life

Exactly three years ago, my partner and I moved to a new community in a
village outside Edinburgh so that we could afford a place with a garden. We
have been growing and nurturing the garden and our community
connections for 36 months now and some common themes have emerged
for me.

Image of roses and a raised herb garden

Chaotic abundance in the herb garden

Thoughts on gardening as a metaphor for community-building:
1. We started with what was there and planted around it. When we moved to our house the garden was wall-to-wall grass, with one camellia near the
fence. A little bit of lawn remains. The camellia is our strongest plant. (The
first friendship I made when I moved to this community is still one of the
most important).

garden with grass in the middle and shrubs in

2. We planted seeds. (We began with “Hello”).
3. We have planted for pleasure and beauty as well as nourishment. (Some connections are surface-level, fun and friendly; others sustain us).
4. We believe in promoting diversity so that everything (everyone)
thrives, whether that be the plants (residents) or wildlife (visitors).

The whole garden, lawn and flowers on one side, then some steps, then on the right there are raised beds for vegetables

Community is messy!

6. We are learning to let the garden surprise us. We have let some ‘weeds’ – things we didn’t intentionally plant – ‘be’ because they are so beautiful. (Some connections come unexpectedly and we have learned to be responsive to this; delightful things can happen as a result!)
7. We are starting to accept that some plantings (attempted relationships)
will fail, no matter how hard we to nurture them. This has been the
hardest lesson for me.

seedlings amongst some established plants

“Did I plant that?”

I think we have a certain approach to gardening and community building community which is increasingly responsive (you can read ‘chaotic and disorganised’ if you wish!) but I know others have a different approach to both. I would love to learn from the methods YOU use! Please comment… Gardeners and community builders alike.



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7 responses to “7 Thoughts on Gardening and Life

  1. Sarah Forbes

    Great metaphors! Also, watch where the sunny parts of the garden are, and plant what is suited to sun there, and what is not in the shadier parts. Or, some people thrive in connection with others because they don’t mind the spotlight, others prefer a gentler, quieter contribution. I bet there’s squillions of similarities to draw.

    Good one Linda!

    • Love that response Sarah…that is so true.

      Some wonders come about as an annual…only once in a while when the conditions are ripe for it. Some relations feel less consistant and available. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are less beautiful and powerful. Pay close attention to those as well.

  2. Alison

    I often ponder on how the metaphors of gardening relate to life. Mostly gardening gives me hope and surprises, just like people. This summer has not been good for my garden, not enough sun for many flowers to flourish. Our strawberries and raspberries were particularly hard hit by the rain, and I’ve missed munching on strawberries so much. And yet I don’t intend giving up on gardening, I’m hopeful that next year could be better. Mind you, one of my hellebores has come into flower, and it’s supposed to wait until December, so not sure if that bodes well or not! Likewise, I don’t give up on people either, at least not until I have to accept that some relationships just won’t flourish – just as I’ve had to accept that some plants don’t appreciate the windswept and winter freezing that is my garden. But the Alpines are happy and keep going. So it’s knowing what you have and how it can work which is most likely to do well – with people too. And make sure you leave room for the unexpected – like the “dead” plant I rescued from my weed heap because it had started growing again. Or the self-seeded plants which are filling in the gaps.

    Thanks Linda, I needed this post on a Monday morning when all in the garden is not rosy!

  3. Lovely post. What it made me think was how in nature everything has its place, its function and its season. No one part/element is more important than another, all being required to bring growth and fruition, even frost, rain, and drought. Our communities need to honour and reflect that too. Thanks Linda!

  4. Heather

    I like the use of metaphors, too. Sometimes starting the garden (just saying “hello”) is the most intimidating part. Well, for me at least.

  5. So nice to see the photos of your garden … and your thoughtful reflections on gardening and life …. Thanks Linda! My garden teaches me many things, too. This year – the vegetable garden looked really great but has yet to produce a substantial harvest – maybe there is a lesson there about outcomes and metrics in the community building world?

    – Becki

    (ps – I have shared this on Joe’s blog and facebook page.)

  6. Thanks for those wonderful parallels! Lovely people!


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