The Garden Inside Us

I’ve known for a long time that I had a special relationship
with my garden.  That point was driven
home recently when I read the book called The
Garden Interior
written by former Comcast executive and passionate gardener
David Jensen.  Jensen explains that the
garden interior is that sense of the garden that we all have inside, binding us
to the garden and the garden to us.

A recent Philadelphia Inquirer article described Jensen as a
spiritual gardener who believes all of life is experienced in the garden –
beauty, decay, joy, sadness and constant change.  I couldn’t agree more.  Jensen suggests that our lives are lived to
the fullest when we are present, observant and open to the lessons our gardens
are prepared to teach us.  Clearly,
Jensen believes we are partners in the garden, probably junior partners at
that.  I love Jensen’s comment that “a
really great gardener has gotten most of the ego sandpapered off him over

One of Jensen’s most powerful statements is that the garden,
like the gardener, is constantly changing. 
Gardens are different every day in subtle ways such as a new or fading
bloom, evidence of critters nibbling leaves, a newly constructed bird’s nest, or the light casting shadows in a
certain way.  Our gardens teach us to
see, to really see; they demand our attention and observation.  Attentive gardeners know that this constant
change, these captured moments in time, are a reflection of the gardener who is
also constantly growing, aging, evolving. 
Jensen accurately states that “Our gardens are not lasting monuments to
ourselves.  In fact they outlive us.  Recognizing the transitory and ever-changing
nature of things is part of the wisdom the garden provides.”

A house wren constructed a nest in minutes over the speaker on the covered patio

To be true gardeners, we must get our hands in the soil and become
one with the garden and its residents.  Jensen
claims this physical connection is important as it’s what connects our interior
selves with the exterior space. The same can be said of human
relationships.  We have to get involved,
participate, and extend ourselves in order to get the most out of life and our
partnerships.  Investments pay
dividends.  The garden knows this and responds. 

As gardeners we plant seeds and expect something to
grow.  We are sometimes disappointed
because plants don’t perform as expected, leaves are consumed by pests, or blooms
are destroyed by a late winter frost; but our optimism never dies.  While every gardener experiences some form of
disappointment, these frustrating moments are countered by unplanned surprises
and successes.  Gardening teaches us to take
the good with the bad, the rough with the smooth – knowing it will all work out
okay in the end, the way it was meant to be. 

The surprise of a near dead vine thriving the following year

The disappointment of a hosta eaten by deer

Gardening teaches us to be persistent, dedicated and
hopeful. A poignant example of this is the picture Jensen paints of a gardener
standing in his garden on a cold, dreary day, surrounded by the decay of the
fall garden.  He is joyful because he is
holding a paper bag of cherished crocus bulbs in one hand and a bag of
daffodils in the other.  I can assure you
that will be me this autumn as I merrily plant the hundreds of snowdrops,
crocus and daffodils I recently ordered. 
A joyful gardener I will be. 

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