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Tips for Deeper Gardening


Gardening to live life to the full

1. Winter is Wonderful – embrace this time of stillness in the garden. See the
opportunity it gives for quiet reflection on the ‘bones’ of the garden – its shape, its
size, its underlying structure. These three qualities will not be so readily apparent in
other seasons but they are what gives the garden its essential character. Every garden
needs a time to rest and recuperate and so do we. How do we ensure the season of
winter in our own lives? Do we take time to be still, reflect and review?

2. The Sun and its life-giving trail – follow the shadows and plot the way the sun
blazes a trail through your garden. This gives your garden its opportunities and also
influences your behaviour. Noticing this trail will determine where and when your
coolest and warmest spots are. This will help you to place the right sort of plant in
the right sort of place. We also respond to warmth and light rather like plants –
noticing this trail for ourselves may determine the best place to locate a new patio or
If we talk about the sun, we must also talk about time. Your garden is a simple
sundial. Take a look at your garden right now and the sun will be creating the same
light and darker areas in six months time. What will be the difference between then
and now? Our efforts! Gardening links us to the true nature of time – cycles and
rhythms, seen through the emergence, flowering, leaf-drop and dying of our crops,
plants and trees. Death in the garden leads to renewal – old plant matter rots down
into life-giving compost; gaps in the border lead to new possibilities. When we
understand this, we can see the path of our own lives in similar, natural ways.

3. Which way does your garden face? Understand the special qualities that are
brought to your garden because of its orientation. An east-facing garden has a very
different set of possibilities than a west-facing one. We will behave differently in our
gardens than our neighbours on the other side of the street simply because the path
of the sun will cast a different set of shadows through our gardens.

4. The soil – the nourishing carpet beneath our feet. Soil is everything, it will
determine the health and longevity of your plants. It also determines the palette of
plants that will grow well there – acidic or alkaline, sandy or clayey. Get to know
deeply your soil and nurture it well. It is the foundation on which everything else
rests. Give your soil a good start by getting a compost bin to recycle your organic
waste from the kitchen and garden.
In our own lives, our soil (our foundation) is our experiences turned over and forked
through into the goodness of wisdom and learning. How well do we break down the
big clods to prepare a good soil? What tools do we bring to the digging? What tools
do we bring to our own learning and processing, breaking down the bigger problems
into manageable chunks? Do we have all the tools we need? Is the soil of our own
lives able to support the seeds and crops of wishes, desires and responsibilities that
we have? Get digging!

5. Water – our deepest relationship. Water is the trigger for life, too – the presence
of water can germinate the tiniest seed in the darkest place to reach upwards towards
the light and fulfil its potential. How well do we keep our seeds and crops (our ideas,
goals, desires, responsibilities) watered?
Honour the life-giving properties of water. Conserve it well and use it appropriately.
Scarcity of water is an invitation for us to re-attach value to this precious
commodity. Do all you can to prevent water loss (through rainfall capture, mulching,
watering at appropriate times, for example) and garden according to water
availability, this is our new reality.
So, what is a garden? A place where we can reconnect with the world and each
other; where we can learn about our lives and where we can become truly more
loving and powerful.

Mark Rendell
February 2006