There is a healing garden at my house, thanks to my partner in life. She is an artist who works in many media. She fills the space around us, inside and outside our home, with beautiful things. Her gardens crowd with daily works-in-progress as she adds one more spot of life to a year-round creation. It unfolds in time as the season and color for one group of living things peaks and then fades, in a cycle that never ends yet is never quite the same.
Her natural works of art speak for themselves. I’ve put a few images here, and you can find many more on Flickr. (There is also a Facebook page, The Garden on M Street.) Each is a glimpse of one moment and breaks up the flow of this complicated garden life. If you can see enough of them, though, you begin to get a sense of what she is making, day by day. It’s a big part of the healing in my life.
My wife keeps expanding and adding variety to the gardens at our house. For her, they’re a labor of love, rewarding and fulfilling for the work they require. But growing hundreds of different plants calls for constant attention.
The basics demand hard labor. There are the piles of plant remains to be turned and sifted. The compost they yield has to be mixed with top soil, sand and nutrients – to produce a good humus. There are beds to be weeded and mulched, manure to spread. That’s the sort of thing I help with – lots to lift and shovel, wheel barrow loads to fill, push and dump, holes for new fruit trees to dig out.
There are hundreds of plant varieties, each requiring just the right amounts of sun, shade, water, soil supplements and natural pest control. Weather is a constant concern. There is new planting during much of the year, designing gardens to flow with the seasons so there’s always something thriving.
Over the past few years she has created a home nursery, adding the intense work of finding and potting hundreds of flowering plants and trees to sell. At her Saturday sales, she meets lots of other plant people as well as newbies who love her detailed gardening advice.
And I get to thrive by getting a good workout and, more often, writing and reading for my blogs in one of the outdoor rooms she has created. Or I de-stress simply by being in the gardens.
All of this takes minimal money but maximum energy, creative drive, hard work and constant attention to a thousand details.
The gardens open fields of mindfulness for daily therapy of the finest sort.
Images by permission of Cathy Folk-Williams. All rights reserved by Wild Rubies at Flickr.
This post is an edited version of two posts from the early years of this blog. The gardens continue to thrive.