Photo: cc Orin Zebest, thanks!
Once there was a group of passionate gardeners. One day the landowner’s daughter wanted to join them.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST SUSAN BLOOD
Once there was a group of passionate gardeners. They brought plants to the garden from their own travels, families and finds. Each had his or her own area of interest, and together they created something unlike anything anyone had ever seen.
They cultivated rare breeds and heirlooms, and they shared seeds with anyone who asked.
One day the landowner’s daughter wanted to join them. So she did. She had great ideas about how to make the garden bigger, better and more profitable.
“Those weeds,” she said, “should be pulled out so we can plant impatiens.”
“That’s asparagus,” replied a gardener. “It looks like that because it’s late in the season.”
“Then we should pull it out until spring. It’s wasting space now.”
Gardening without power over the result
Someone tried to tell her how long it takes to cultivate an asparagus bed, but she had moved on. From the middle of the garden, she laid out her plans. She had seen a garden in a magazine and she wanted this garden to look more like it.
“You’re standing on a Japanese painted fern,” one gardener pointed out.
Not knowing what that was, she didn’t move.
This went on for several weeks.
Little by little and very quietly, the gardeners took the plants that were most precious to them and started their own gardens elsewhere.
Some donated plants to friends and helped them start new gardens. Others found space in community gardens. Some were so heartbroken they gave up altogether.
It was several weeks before they all realized they were doing this.
The good we do is not ours
They didn’t want to leave each other, but with the garden vanishing, there seemed to be no reason to keep on. A few stayed in hopes of cultivating a love of plants in the daughter, although it felt like teaching a pig to whistle. The others edged the grass, spread the mulch and said their goodbyes.
There is a moral to this story, but the gardeners in question are too close to see it. It’s easy to point fingers at the landowner’s daughter, who doesn’t understand gardens and is too arrogant to ask or learn, but morals don’t come with pointing fingers so there must be something more.
Perhaps it has to do with protecting your asparagus and knowing when to transplant your European ginger. It is about cherishing your gifts and keeping them safe no matter what the world says.
It also has to do with sharing, because you never know when and how those seeds will flower. The good things that we do are not gone when we stop doing them.
Cultivating a practice
A friend of mine has been carrying around her own version of a Japanese painted fern, wondering where it should go.
It’s tricky because our gifts, as wonderful as they are, do not thrive everywhere. They must be cultivated. They need to go where they are appreciated and supported. This is why it’s so hard to part with what’s worked in the past.
At some point, we all need to transplant. Be gentle; know there’s a right place for everything.
And never let someone stand on your Japanese painted fern.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.