Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tending Your Own Garden

Tending your own garden is one of those very important, yet secret things we learn to do, first as infants, for if it be unnatural, why are our fingertips so perfectly paired with our gardens? Just the right length, just the right size, and the soil feels good to stir... . As children, we are shamed, 'If you are going to touch your garden, please do it in the privacy of your own room' (preferably under the covers in the middle of the night so we won't have to know about it). Unless you were shamed or frightened into never exploring your own, native soil, you know that with proper tending, almost any tending, flowers can and will bloom. We learn this, one way or another, in our teen or adult years (Thank God!). As soil, rich, black, fragrant soil, even when a gardener sets in, digging with his spade, will never bear a bloom of any kind unless A. We have learned how to bring forth blooms from our own soil first, or B. we have a gardener with an experienced green thumb who is not afraid to get his hands dirty.

If the inexperienced gardener with a spade or a hoe, or even rake sets into our soil before we have learned the nuances required to bring forth the magic of germination, it can taint us to the beauty of gardening for a very very long time. We may even come to the conclusion that gardening in general is some nasty business that has no place in a girl's life. That her soil is dirty, she likes her nails clean and may even go so far as to have her plot of soil paved over with concrete. Sad. So girls, here's where I am going to enlighten you. Get your notepads ready, brew up the tea and light the candles, because we are going to talk gardening!!!!!

This is what I've learned, and would like to share with you about soil, germination and ultimately the beautiful blooms that can and will come forth for any healthy female with the desire to experience the pride of regularly bringing forth a beautiful flower, (or two or three).

The most important advice I can impart to you today is that you weed from your garden any shame, embarassment, self loathing or fear associated with the act of tilling your own soil. Gardening in your own plot is actually one of the healthiest, most sacred rituals you can do, and unfortunately, in our society, sacred acts are sometimes labled as shameful. Not true. Throw those weeds away and never think of them again. Good.

Of course, the best gardening is done alone, just you and your soil and your mind and heart, open, fingers enjoying the feel of the warm soil, wet with dew, you hum along, lost in the pleasure of connection, literally taken away to another place, another time, on vacation. A vacation for your heart and your body. Any time of day is a good time for gardening. Any time and place when you can clear your mind, create a sacred space for you and your soil to bring forth a colorful bloom, in celebration of life. The resulting you will have a glow in her cheeks and take in the rest of the day with ease, even welcoming your gardener in later, your soil already stirred and loosesened, ready for the spade.

Using your hands is fine, just make sure you begin your digging with clean fingers so as not to infect your soil with any unwanted germs. Many women use fertilizer or bell jars ( a bell jar is like a mini, glass, bell-shaped green house you place over the soil where your bulb is buried to provide warmth and moisture in cold weather) to help stimulate and or force their bulbs. I have never tried a bell jar, but am fully supportive of any tools neccessary to achieve the most beautiful bloom. If you are shy about purchasing a bell jar, there are web sites and stores geared toward female gardeners now that won't make you feel dirty or sinister to enter. A site I know of called The Art of Pleasure for Gardeners, is run by women for women. They say 'an orchid a day keeps the wrinkles away'- and I have come to see this as sage advice. Stimulating the blossoming of an orchid increases blood flow to every part of your body and creates hormones to be released that stimulate joy and health, counteracting all the negative stress hormones your body gets flooded with on a daily basis.

Along the lines of air and aerating your soil, part of letting go of the shame of taking time during your busy day to garden, is exposing your soil to fresh air and sunshine. Unless you are trying to grow mushrooms, your flowers need air and sun to bloom. Get out from under the covers. Think of some new ways to till your soil discreetly, but in honor of the life-giving properties your soil will bring forth. Like I said before, the shame has got to go. Your gardener, if he is a trusted partner, will fully support you in this, if you choose, at any time, to discuss the subject of gardening with him. Might I suggest having this conversation over a bottle of wine, prior to enetering an empty house or hotel room? Most gardeners love to talk about soil and wish to start digging just as soon as possible after a conversation such as this has taken place. They can hardly keep their rakes or their spades to themselves once you begin to discuss the nuances of soil aeration.

Soil should be honored with regular tilling, sowing, care and maintence. It should be revered in it's ability to bring forth the beauty of flowers, bouquets and bushels of exquisite, fragrant, richly colored blooms. It should be nurtured and tenderly cared for in it's life-giving, promotion of new seeds, and the gardeners of tomorrow. Never again, will this tender, beautiful plot of soil be left untended. And as for those girls who have had their plots covered over with concrete; break out your jackhammers! Even dormant soil can be unleashed in it's ability to bring forth life.

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