weeds

Gardening as a Contract with Nature

I do not claim to be an excellent gardener. Never have. In fact, in the past, I was so unwilling to kill any Plant that I wouldn’t “weed” and my vegetable garden would soon consist of more weeds than vegetables. After losing my herb garden and restarting last year, I realized that I needed to make a change. So I did what I do and I asked the Plants for assistance. I talked about my realization of “de-planting” in the last newsletter, so I won’t go into detail here.

Since writing about it and as I prepare for garden days here, I have been trying to pay attention to how I work with the Plants.

First, I notice a huge difference in the Plants in my herb garden. I’ve been telling everyone that it is like they are on steroids. People nod and say yes this crazy weather, with the heat and abundance of rain, has been great for Plants. But that’s not it. If you look at the Plants in my herb garden and compare them to any other Plants, there is a difference. They are larger, stronger, and have many more blooms. You can (or at least I can) notice the difference in quality. I have a hypothesis which I’ll share later.

Why weed or de-plant? Well, as I said earlier, when I didn’t de-plant my gardens, the garden Plants struggled. I questioned myself, why are the Plants that I planted more important than the wild ones? They aren’t. However, when creating a garden, a human creates a contract with nature. The garden is under the human’s care. So it is my responsibility to provide the healthiest environment for the garden Plants. This is why I invite the wild Plants to grow in our field.

That being said, it is important to know (and this is contrary to what most gardeners will tell you) that the wild Plants are also important to the garden. These wild Plants do provide something. Perhaps they are using their tap roots to bring needed minerals. Perhaps they are providing protection (which is what Ragweed did for my garden last year). If you look at Nature, Plants do not like to grow alone with a lot of space between them (well, most Plants). And so our garden Plants, also need others nearby. Some gardeners do this with companion planting. I think this is helpful. I also think it is best if we can pay attention to the wild Plants (and the garden Plants) and see what is best for the garden.

This spring, Lamium purpureum or Purple Deadnettle came to my garden. I always admire this plant growing in the fields every spring. However, when I encountered ki growing (quite generously) in my herb garden, fear set in. I thought, I have to take care of this now or ki could take over my whole herb garden. (Most of the Plants were either still asleep or were just beginning to come out of the ground.) When I could step back, I realized that I like Lamium growing there, the purple and green were beautiful and Heart lifting. So I asked the garden and Lamium what I should do. The response was “Nothing,” I needed to let the Lamium continue to grow. So I did. As I sat with it and watched, the feeling that I got was that the Lamium was fixating energy into the garden similar to clover fixating nitrogen. She was raising the healing vibration of the garden. In time, her job was done and she told me to remove her, which I did. Now, my hypothesis, is that it is to Lamium purpureum that my garden (and I) owe the incredible growth, strength, and energy that is now present.

My point is that there is a time to de-plant and there is a time to let the Plants do their work. A good “gardener” accepts this and knows which time it is. To my knowledge, the only way to know when to do these is by paying attention to the Plants and letting them guide your work.

If you are interested in trying this, I encourage you to spend quiet time in your garden. Focus on sharing the space with all the Plants. Allow your breathing to unite with the Plants’ breathing. When you are ready, ask which Plant or Plants need to be removed. Open your eyes and see if any catch your attention. I try to focus on removing one or two Plants at a time. For instance, I am working with Ragweed right now. So I am removing all the Ragweed and only Ragweed . Then, next time I might work with Morning Glory and only remove Morning Glory. If one catches your attention, then go to that Plant (its okay if you don’t know what ki is, I encourage you to learn. Tell the Plant that this garden is for the Plants that you plant and invite. Thank her for her help in the garden and invite her to grow somewhere else (for me, we have a huge field where I invite them to grow). Ask her if there is anything that you need to do for her or the garden. Every time you pull a Plant, thank the Plant. If you can, eat or make medicine with the Plants you are “harvesting”. If not, then compost them and return them to the earth.

Be willing to allow the “weeds” to grow. Watch your garden and see how the energy shifts.

Of Dandelion and Fear

I went for a walk in the field one morning. I stopped and looked around me, the field was filled with Dandelions. As I admired their beauty, I was flooded with memories. Some were as a child and how my friends and I adored Dandelions. We would delight in them and play games with them. Yes, we would say, “Momma had a baby and her head popped off” and pop the heads off of the Dandelions. But, I really don’t think they cared. I think they were happy that we children loved them and played with them. We would make Dandelion crowns and rub our bodies with the blossoms to turn our skin yellow. Of course, our favorite was blowing the seed heads. Then, another memory came, this was as an adult. My sons and I were going on a walk with our neighbor and her son. Right away, she commented that my yard was full of Dandelions. My immediate reaction was to respond by saying, “I know, isn’t it beautiful?” Then I realized that this was not meant as a compliment, but a complaint. I was surprised because her garden beds and walkway were filled with “weeds” and her very large yard contained materials from the many unfinished projects that her husband started: piles of sand, bags of cement, wood scraps, slate tiles, etc. As I looked back on this day, I again was surprised and was curious why she had such a strong reaction to the Dandelions.

This then led to all the other conversations that I’ve had with people who wanted to spray their lawns with poisons to eradicate the Dandelion. I again got curious. I find it so interesting that this incredibly healing Plant brings so much fear and hatred out in people. Don’t get me wrong, I know that many people love Dandelion. That is why she grows in the US. The story that I have been told is that the Italians brought her here with them because they couldn’t imagine living without her. She has sustained many during the late winter/early spring starvation time before grocery stores.

So why, is our culture anti-Dandelion? Why is it that we need to eradicate something that brings beauty to the monotony of the green lawn? I realize that part of this is the fear that if you let one Dandelion, there will be many, for her seeds are prolific. This thought brings me to another question, when we have fear, why is our response to wipe out, eradicate, do harm, fight back? Why not simply step away from the fear and really look at the issue? Is the Dandelion truly something to be fearful about? What is the worst that will happen if Dandelion is allowed to grow in our yards? What can be gained or what gifts are there by allowing Dandelion to grow?

Of course, this extends beyond Dandelion. Maybe this is a personal issue. I have been overcoming many fears this spring. I realized that we put too much energy into fear and potential worst case scenarios. So now, I am trying to look at the heart of fear. I encourage you to do this too. What are you afraid of? What keeps you from living the life that you want? What is your gut reaction when faced with fear? Mine tends to be to hide. Though, culturally I believe we tend to eradicate, bring down the enemy. Just imagine what things could be like if we could react with the Heart and Love instead. Would we have so many lives lost and forever changed by war? Would we be poisoning ourselves and the earth because of those pesky Dandelions?

Here’s a bit of a carrot on a string. I developed an enormous, paralyzing fear of heights when my oldest was about a year old. I have allowed this fear to dictate a good portion of my life and avoided many situations where I would have to face it. This winter, while we were planning our trip to Switzerland, we discovered Mt. Titlis (I know, horrible name! I turn into a teenage boy every time.) The mountain is over 10,000 feet high and you can see the Alps and valleys from there. It seemed like an unbelievably gorgeous place. The catch? I would have to ride on 3 gondolas for a total of 40 minutes. I rode on my first ski lift just last year, which was not very high off the ground. Simply looking at the pictures of the gondolas was turning my stomach. However, I decided that I would do this. For months, I worked with Flower Essences and journeying to overcome this fear. Finally, in May, I did it! We went up with dear friends of ours. The first part was a little frightening because I was facing the valley that was quickly becoming farther away. Rescue Remedy was a huge help. After that, I was able to enjoy it. What was even better was the view that I was rewarded with at the top.

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I encourage you to face your fears and let go of what is holding you back! If you get frightened, (first of all, know that there is always help) remember the gentle, brave Dandelion poking her head through the overwhelming void of the macadam to bring Beauty, Light, Love and healing to our world.

Message from the Plants: De-planting

I have always had a hard time with “weeding.” I love Plants. I never wanted to kill a Plant (well, except for Morning Glory). Many of the “weeds” are Plants that I use medicinally or Plants that I suspected could be used medicinally. So for years, my gardens were overrun. Last year, I was gifted with a blank slate for a new garden. I was given a choice, I could continue as I did before and not weed or I could pull the unwanted plants. I contemplated this for awhile, until the plants gave me my answer. They taught me a new way and have asked me to share it. Originally we called this planting, now to not be confusing we call it “de-planting”.

I have an agreement with the plants that the garden will be for Plants that I put there or invite. If another Plant invites herself, I then explain the parameters of the garden and ask her to move to another place (I do have a large field surrounding my garden, with plenty of places for wild Plants.) That is the simple explanation.

What I actually do is get to know the volunteer. I ask her what she wants or needs and try to provide that for her. What happens is that I learn the personality of the Plants that surround me. I’ve also learned some new ways of using them. Most of the Plants that appear in the garden are there to help, so they tell me what I need for the garden. After I listen to them and make our agreement, I then pull them out. They often do not come back. Occasionally, I have had some return but usually it is because I wasn’t holding my end of the bargain and they were reminding me.

Through this process, I healed my relationship with Morning Glory. I learned that she likes to be sung to and told how pretty she is (which she is!). Now when I see her in the field, I stop and admire her. She helps me to be light and joyful. I enjoy this much more than wanting to kill her!!

This morning as I was in the garden seeing which Plants have begun to emerge, I saw a group of new volunteers. Now instead of dreading “weeding”, I am looking forward to getting to know some new Plants.

I hope that you find this helpful. If you try this, please let me know about your experiences!