Posted by / 10 October 2017 /

Life Lessons from a Cutting Garden

My childhood was spent surrounded by gardens. My dad planted a vegetable garden every year.  My grandmothers planted flowers. My two neighbors, Mr. Watson and Ura, planted gardens and flowers. I spent hours looking at plants in all stages and could hardly wait until I had a garden of my own.

My backyard gardens
I'd have to wait, though, because there was college, and a baby, and a career.  I planted gardens and flowers but didn't have the time to truly enjoy gardening.  Before we planted landscaping, and flowers in pots, and vegetables that produced food.  All beautiful and necessary.

Until this year.

This year my husband built me raised beds that were for nothing but flowers.  I had been wanting a cutting garden since I was a child and now I was to get one!

Bouquets from my cutting garden
Decisions on what to plant were easy. I had been keeping track of the flowers I had seen in local farmer's markets for my future garden.  I literally had a list of over one hundred flowers.  I knew I had to prioritize. Pink is my favorite flower, so I decided to go with pink flowers.  That helped but in the long run, I was able to choose just 8 varieties.  Cosmos, baby's breath, zinnias, sweetpeas, cock's comb, orange cosmos, and calidium.

I learned a lot from this first year of my cutting garden, some about gardening but mainly about myself.  Most of the lessons came as a surprise.  Some things I knew but hadn't acknowledged.  Some were downright hard.

1.  Planning a garden.

I had a vision for how I wanted my garden to look. In my mind it would have that English garden look, wild and free.  In my mind butterflies and bees would live happily together.  There are no visions of snakes in this peaceful garden.  In reality, the garden became overgrown and unruly.  The cosmos took over.  This dainty little flower made its presence known.  I realized that I had done the same with my life, visualizing a life that didn't have cancer, a sick child or a move from home.  Reality took over.  This lead to one thing:

2. Pruning.

My garden needed me to cut back on some of the plants.  How hard this is!  A healthy blooming flower needs to be cut to make room for the ones behind it.  I had a cutting garden that was hard for me to cut!  When I began to prune, I noticed more things about my garden.  There was space for other plants to grow, for others to receive sunshine and rain.  When I learned about my cancer, I had to prune back my life. I had to look at what truly gave me joy, what friends were truly there for me, and what my family truly needed.  It hurt, to cut back on things in my life, but like the garden, my life began to grow in beautiful ways.  This lead to another thought:

3.  Things happen outside your control

My plants didn't get enough water in July and things looked pretty rough in August.  Some of my plants had weak stems and when I cut them for bouquets, they drooped.  The rabbits decided that baby zinnias were the new kale.  This was true in my life.  Jobs were lost, sickness came in the front door and settled in, family dynamics were disrupted.  It was how I decided to move forward that mattered, plant some more zinnas, get a new job, prioritize my health and family.   This lead to the present thought:

4.  Reap what you sow.

My garden produced a lot of beautiful flowers, and I had the time of my life going outdoors with my cutting shears to get blooms for a bouquet.  As I spent time looking for the zinnas and sweetpeas, or the cosmos and cock's comb, I realized that I had spent more time in this garden than any garden before it. The flowers were just what I expected because I planted the seeds myself.  It made me realize how I had reaped what I sowed in my life as well.  Perhaps I could have attended to my health more. Lack of exercise and choosing poor food did exactly what it does, it damaged my body and my health. I started cutting back on sugar loaded foods and began a simple walking plan.  I can already feel my body responding.

Audrey Hepburn said, "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."  Gardening, especially my lovely cutting garden, give me faith in myself and the future. I will open myself to a wider vision, continue to prune out bad influences, accept that life will sometimes take an unexpected turn and sow good habits and thoughts in my life.
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