What My Garden Has Taught Me

By Gwenn Voelckers

Gardening season has finally arrived, as witnessed by the abundance of daffodils, forsythia and gorgeous flowering trees.

June is the perfect time for us to dig in and get our hands dirty!

And it’s a good time to reflect the many life lessons that gardening offers to those who live alone. It has taught me the value of planning, preparation, patience, and pleasure — four essential “P’s” for a bountiful garden and … a bountiful life.

Fertile ground exists in each of us, and a little tending can produce beautiful results.

Here’s what I have learned:

• Plan. Realizing the garden of your dreams begins in your imagination, followed by careful planning. Diagram your garden and it will help you avoid planting bulbs on top of bulbs or mistaking a poppy for a weed.

Likewise, envisioning your life goals and committing them to writing can help you flourish and grow.

• Cultivate. Good, cultivated soil promotes healthy, deep roots. When you add fertilizer to your garden you are rewarded with abundance. Adding essential ingredients to the foundation of your dream garden (and your dream life) will nourish all that follows.

You can’t go wrong with good, nutritious food; a walk in nature; a good book; soothing music; or saying “yes” to a new adventure that’s been tugging at your heart.

• Plant. So many choices! Revisit your plan and embed your carefully selected seeds or seedlings with a tender, loving touch, being careful not to overcrowd or plant more than you can manage.

And remember: We reap what we sow, so follow your dreams. Plant a rose and you get a rose; plant a dandelion and you get a dandelion. Seed your future with healthy choices that promote well-being.

• Weed. We all need room to breathe and positive space in which to blossom. It holds true for your garden and your life. Gardening is all about consistent caretaking. Slack off, even for a few days, and all things unwelcome show up and take root.

Weed out the negativity and any dream-stealing toxins that contaminate your life, dash your hopes, or spoil your fun. When you pull out the bad, you can more easily focus on the good in your life.

• Prune. When weeding is not enough, a major pruning may be just what the arborist ordered. A job, relationship or home that no longer satisfies or meets your needs may need a hard look. It may be time to pull out that pair of “life loppers.”

• Mulch. Mulching keeps weeds at bay and the ground moist, and returns nutrients to the soil. It also adds a finishing touch.

Mulch offers a blanket of protection, in the same way that regular doctor appointments, insurances, and safety measures protect our lives. We can learn a lot from mulching.

• Wait. We all know that “good things come to those who wait” and it’s not just what comes out of the Heinz ketchup bottle. When you exercise patience, go slowly, and enjoy the gradual unfolding of a flower, an idea, or a friendship, your life can be savored and more deeply appreciated.

Each year, I look to my garden to remind me that growth takes time.

• Enjoy. Before you know it, your labor of love and patience will pay off. Take pleasure in the transformation as the colors, textures, and fragrances emerge. Too often, we fail to “stop and smell the roses” in our gardens and in our lives.

So get busy, then step back and take a good look. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as admiring what you’ve accomplished. It’s reason to celebrate!

By osmosis, gardening has taught me how to take better care of myself. I have absorbed its rich messages and learned how to nurture my inner garden and growth as a women on her own.

I encourage you to grab a spade and join me. Beauty, growth, and an energizing sense of renewal can be yours, season after season after season.

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive, empowerment workshops for women and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone. For information about her workshops, to invite her to speak, or to purchase her new book, call
585-624-7887, email her at gvoelckers@rochester.rr.com, or visit www.aloneandcontent.com.

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