The Unexpected in the Garden (and Life)


I like the way gardens evolve both in response to what is planted and also what naturally thrives. In fact, I like the adventure of seeing what thrives best of all.   I plant specific plants because I love them or the Angels have suggested them. This effort is followed by results. And results are a different story than my plans. The results are more interesting and more beautiful than if I got what I wanted.

There is the surprise happiness when a plant takes to this place and spreads itself with abandon. Why has a lone Yellow Corydalis plant now self-seeded into hundreds of plants encircling the entire perimeter of every building at the farm? I do not know, but I am glad. There is also the letting go of my personality hopes when no matter how many times I replant something, it fails to thrive. The example that jumps to mind is Lupine. Please don’t let me ever plant another Lupine. They always disappear after a single season of bloom.

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Over the last thirty years here in the gardens, this interplay of planning and letting the plants make their own way (or not) has led to much unexpected beauty. It’s the magic of the whole enterprise. As I let go of my plans, again and again I see how in this surrender the gardens are free to become much more than anything I could have imagined or controlled (even though I wish Lupine liked it here).

Surrender is involved with the Flower Essences too. When, so many years ago, an Angel in the garden asked me to make Flower Essences, I literally had no idea what the Angel was talking about.  It was another chance to listen to wise counsel, let go of MY ideas of why I was here and follows the bliss of working with Flowers that came into my life through no volition of my own.

No matter how many conversations I have with the Angels and Elementals, I never seem to guess where things are going. That first year of making Flower Essences, I thought the Flower Essences were just for my immediate family. How I could imagine that an entire pantry of Flower Essences was just for a few people is beyond me, but I did.

When the project expanded beyond the gardens of the farm, I was surprised again. Lynn Tidman and I were almost complete strangers when she invited me to go to her mother’s home in Bermuda. This seemed like a lovely but random junket, yet so many Flowers were waiting for us. And from the get-go, Lynn and I were game for the adventure of listening to the Flowers and bringing their Essences home to the farm. The first trip blossomed into many trips of Flower adventures. Climbing trees in hurricanes, borrowing step ladders during dinner parties, dragging cases and cases of “Flower potions” through customs. That sort of thing!


Later it made sense to me that Flowers grown in the very different world of Bermuda would have very different strengths and wisdom than Flowers grown here. It made sense to me that Flower Essences from two different worlds would mean more helpful tools for the blossoming community of people and animals who wanted to work with our Flower Essences. I never seem to get the bigger picture in advance, but events like this have helped me to let go when unexpected things happen, knowing that there is a bigger picture, just one that I do not know yet.

Yes, yes, I know. It’s easy enough to believe all this when it’s a trip to Bermuda. But these early experiences helped me when I had the choice to surrender and trust in a bigger picture when it was both my arms broken into dozens of pieces, death threats from a sibling, disinheritance. I may be Mollyanna, but it’s not because I never left the greenhouse.


This year it’s the Taiwan Flower Essences that fill me with awe about the bigger picture I do not understand.

When Sarah embarked on her trip to Taiwan, it was not organized around making Flower Essences. Yes, we discussed Sarah making Flower Essences in Taiwan IF SHE GOT THE CHANCE and left it up to the Angels from there. It looked like most of her time would be taken up in tutoring at the Taipei International School.

When Sarah came home, it was abundantly clear that this was one of those moments when the Angels and Elementals had a much bigger plan than we had imagined during our casual pre trip conversation about making Flower Essences.   Sarah had been led all over northern Taiwan by the Angels and Elementals. Like the treasure hunt that it was, she was sent from one place to the next with Flowers calling out to her on each of her adventures.


When she came home, we agreed that tapping into the wisdom of each of these Flower Essence gems was a project best saved for summer when she could spend long days hearing the Flowers share their truths. When summer arrived, Sarah went out under the Larch tree and sat there for days, listening and learning. Together we read the amazing history of Flowers in this Flower loving country as we wrestled Latin names to earth. But mostly, Sarah went deep. Deep into conversation and connection with these old Flower friends.


Each time I read Sarah’s descriptions, it strikes me that I couldn’t have heard these Flowers speak in the same way as Sarah did. Her long loving connection to all things Chinese opened doorways of understanding that I don’t have. I can only feel gratitude to the Angels and Elementals for the perfection of their complex planning and to Sarah for her listening and following with such steadfast determination.


The fact that the Taiwan Essences felt outside my understanding showed me all the more strongly why I needed these Essences and why they may be a blessing to others. These gentle friends from afar help us understand ourselves to be part of a seamless unity of one precious planet. They help us know this unity with every cell of our being.

More specifically, this collection bridges east and west. I love how these Flower Essences take us into another frame of reference while also helping to dismantle anything in this world-view that doesn’t serve us all. That’s Flower Essences for you. I have never met one that doesn’t help us find greater harmony with each other.


There is a longer document describing the Taiwan Essences than the short descriptions online and in our brief handout of New for 2016 Essences. The long definition is available on request. I hope to post it here once I get some technical help during Thanksgiving to get the blog site to stop deleting the Chinese characters. In the meantime, I share Sarah’s introduction from this longer document:

“Collected from the island of Taiwan in January 2016, the Flowers from this collection have an important message to share with us. This message is largely about dismantling our outdated patterns of kowtowing.

For example, various Flower Essences in this collection push us to stop kowtowing to hierarchy, elders, and past ideas of self. The word kowtow comes from the Chinese ?? which is the process of bowing and touching your forehead to the ground. This was a custom that was used to show respect, most notably to the Emperor but also to others (such as elders or religious figures) who were deserving of such respect. When I say that the Taiwan collection is about moving beyond kowtowing, I do not mean to suggest that respect or custom is inherently bad, but I do think the Flowers are trying to teach us that this way of looking at the world is limited, that hierarchy is not a structure to be worshiped. The Flowers seem to live in a realm that is beyond these human constructs, sending tendrils of sweet wisdom down to greet us in our worldly sphere.”


To add to what Sarah says here, I am particularly struck by the geography of Taiwan and its history of breaking away and refusing to kowtow to mainland China. It does not surprise me that its Flowers would be all about peacefully but unapologetically holding one’s personal power and autonomy, sense of mission and purpose.

Humanity seeks a new balance of personal power within the context of interconnection. We are one big family, sometimes squabbling, but still one big family. We look for ways to hold out light and be our authentic self within the whole, respectful of others but also not subservient to any viewpoint that would repress anyone’s wholeness or holiness. The love of the Flowers with their incredible inclusiveness and individuality brings so much support. And here in the Taiwan Essences we find elemental voices of truth-speaking, strength, vision, respectful bridge building without kowtowing.   I am most grateful.