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
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
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).
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.
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.