Editing in the Garden & Life

The gardens of Green Hope Farm are 37 years old now. The tasks I had when this place was a wide open hay field couldn’t be more different than now. Back then it was all about planting trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs and annuals. I needed them all to build a garden from the blank canvas of the hay field.

Creating structure with these plantings was a big part of the early years. With the Angels and Elementals guiding me, we made garden rooms that each have a different feeling and purpose. There is the Arbor Garden which offers a timeless sense of repose, wholeness and serenity no matter what is going on elsewhere in one’s life. This garden is a sea of spring bulbs and other spring Flowers like Hellebores, Snowdrops and Virginia Bluebells. Other Flowers are part of the garden too, so when I make Arbor Garden Flower Essence each year there are always a good forty or fifty different Flowers in the mix.

We created a Rose garden, a space that immerses us in Divine beauty within and without, Each Rose shares a numinous experience of unity and Divine Love via its presence in the garden and in the Rose Garden Flower Essences

Then there are the three vegetable gardens that take up the issues of daily life and helps to sort them out in mandalas that change season to season. We always grow our Red Shiso stabilizer in one of these gardens, rotating from garden to garden each year. Red Shiso is as daily as it gets as this plant is the foundation and stabilizer for all our Flower Essences (see About Our Essences for more on Red Shiso.)

The Rose garden is on the left and one of the perennial beds on the right.

The many perennial beds anchor the place with their steady drumbeat of joy. They connect the years and our experiences like string holding a set of beads.

The entrance garden with its ring of rock walls, abundant Thyme and central pool welcomes us into the gardens and our own heart space. This garden sweeps us into the Sacred Feminine as part of our journey of reunion with the Divine. You may remember two years ago when our pick up truck made an unexpected visit to this garden!

Today Pasque Flower blooms where once the truck sat.

And then there is the Venus Garden. This garden astounds us each year with its wildly inventive structures, timely purposes and unusual plantings. This garden is the door opener that shows us the way (and right now this year’s Venus Garden is just a circular space covered in hay waiting to be planted the first week in June).

Each of these gardens required planting many different plants to see what was meant to be there. I gathered plants from roadsides, plant nurseries and gardens of friends with great enthusiasm. Once the bones were in place, I continued to grow an exuberant amount of annuals, herbs, vegetables starts and perennials in the greenhouse space and other window ledges that get enough light. Growing seedlings is part of every spring. For example, here is the passageway into the office right now.

The greenhouse is also full with tropical beloveds and flats of baby plants. Yes, the Tomatoes are getting the best light and steamy warmth in the greenhouse. As you might suspect from the last blog, they have gotten good light and especially tender care since 1993.

The hoop house, (built by Rex Miller and therefore called the Rex) receives the baby plants that are tough enough for colder conditions. I spent this morning beginning to fill the hoop house with baby plants and flats planted with seeds.

So yes, there is an annual process of growing more plants but in truth, at a certain point of garden creation, the work shifts almost entirely from gathering plants to editing the garden. I loved the gathering years, but editing work is when a garden becomes something essentially true to itself.

In part this is because a garden edits itself. No matter how hard I tried, some plants didin’t stay after I planted them. For example, hundreds of Lupines have departed this garden. Bearded Iris too. It’s not all departures. Without my volition, plants multiply and establish themselves with vigor, declaring that this the perfect spot for them.

The editing of comings and goings gives me a feeling of deep partnership. The garden has its own soul that has expressed itself over time. It helped the garden’s soul that I worked with Angels and Elementals to create this garden, because I suspect without this partnership I would have delayed the garden’s self expression. But I think this process of dissolving away human personality ideas and having something essential arise happens in most older gardens. It happened here, and I am grateful it did.

As I was thinking about this topic, it was hard to miss that older people like an older garden grow into a certain authenticity as life pares away some things and other things continue to thrive. And once again, I like that this process is a melding of our own efforts and the grace of life.

While society may encourage us to to keep our tentacles out in the world reaching for everything new and more at an undiminished (even accelerating rate) to the end of our days, life itself takes us in a different direction. Life encourages us to accept the paring down and let thrive what really matters and what is real.

And what is real and what is just illusion and diversion? What are we here to do and what is just a waste of our time?

The gardens give me my own answer to this. Love, beauty, peace, generosity, flow and acceptance. Love most of all. As Darwin Shaw said, “Divine Love is total significance.”

And how sturdy are these verities? As we clean up from a winter that pared down just about every shrub and tree on the property, I am heartened to feel the rock steady vibration of the place. The years of pouring love into each garden space means that even as some very large trees and shrubs are gone, there is still a palpable Green Hope Farm feeling of peace and calm, love and infinite blessings. And I do not think this is unique to Green Hope Farm. I think this is true of everyone and every place when other stuff is stripped away (either by life or by our own efforts). Its not just that love is total significance, love is the only real thing.