The sun rose this morning on a misty world, finding its way through scattered clouds. Although the air is chill, yet there is a feeling of spring burgeoning with determined inevitability in the hedgerows and fields. Houses huddle together for warmth, and in their gardens, sheltered by their fences and walls, warmth and light is contained and held, and flowers bloom there. I am missing my old garden… the new place is green, small shoots and the first leaves adorn my tiny flowerbed, but the riotous energy of earlier springs is absent.
It seems a little odd at first glance that these man-made oases should see the blossoming of springtime before the garden of Mother nature herself, yet perhaps it is not really so. The flowers and buds that retain their wildness are less showy, less colourful, perhaps, than the cultivars that we plant and tend assiduously, and we notice them less readily. We have taken seeds from the wild and seen in them the possibilities of flowers more vibrant, more vivid, and, to our eyes perhaps, more beautiful. Over the centuries gardeners have bred varieties that flower for longer periods, that give better fruit, in many ways aiding and accelerating the evolutionary process … we have taken the basic design and added layers of petals, a rainbow of colours… and like puppies wagging their tails furiously to show off a new trick, they leap into action at the first sign of warmth.
We tend our little patches of tamed nature with love and in the sheltered microcosms of our gardens find an intimacy with the natural world we seldom get chance to touch in the wild places any more. We learn here to see the turning of the seasons, the interdependence of species and, in spite of our taming, the overriding forces of nature at work. Perhaps all our horticultural efforts only serve to make us more conscious of the true nature of Nature.
As always my mind wanders off down the garden path and I wonder what our propensity for gardening has to teach, for there are lessons even… perhaps especially… in the compost heap.
We live in nature… even in our towns and cities, though we may forget that. We speak of the natural world as if there is a dividing line between us and it, yet in truth there is none. Only the shallow overlay of brick and asphalt that we have constructed… a practical container for our daily lives. Yet birds fly, nest and greet the morning with song in the city streets, mosses and daisies poke their heads through the cracks in the pavements and rain and sunshine find their way between the looming cliffs of our high rise buildings. We cannot escape or be separated from nature… it is part of who and what we are, as we are part of it. The world is not ‘out there’ and distant, it is here, and now, in every cell of our bodies, every part of our being. The seasons turn, the years pass, and nature evolves at her own rate in spite of all we might attempt.
And so do we. Evolution…. universal, global or personal, is as inevitable as the dawn. We will grow and learn… eventually… whether we like it or not. We can’t hide from our own growth any more than we can hide from nature. Many do not try, but, like gardeners of the soul, invite nature in and, in the sheltered confines of our inner being we find that walled garden that is the heart. Here, protected and warm, the seeds of Light are planted and nurtured… sometimes they grow into something that seems larger than life and other gardeners take note… and learn from the grower, taking seeds or cuttings to plant in their own soul’s garden. These are the teachers, those whose inner Light shines so brightly it can no more be ignored than a bed of roses that perfumes the air and sets a summer day aflame with colour. Some, like the angelic old lady we met recently, simply radiate joy.
Most gardens are quieter, places of gentle peace, loved by those who tend them, where every plant has a story, a history and a character the gardener knows well. They may not be laid out in formal beds, they may not please the eye of the professional, but what grows here is Love.
The gardens of our lives are filled with many things and at any one time there will be flowers and leaves breaking into bud, full-blown blooms and faded corners past their best yet still engaged in the cycle of like. Seed heads, dry and brown contain myriad new flowers, waiting to come to the birth. Decaying leaves feed the soil and insects buzz and wriggle within the bounding fences and walls. Although we tend these boundaries, they are not the garden, they are simple the container, the vessel, in which our little patch of beauty grows. An empty vessel is of little value, it serves only to hold and to shape what it contain. Yet with the first seed sown, the first cutting planted, life comes in, plunging its roots deep into the earth and lifting its face to the sun.