Sunday, July 27, 2008

Enjoying your garden..

This practice has taught me something that is value regarding how to approach my own life. It is my habit and my joy to spend time in my garden. When we first moved into our cottage, the area was overgrown and the property had been used more or less as a pseudo-landfill. Using only our effort and some hand tools, we slowly transformed the ugliness that had prevailed, allowing the beauty to shine through.

During the first year that we lived in this place, we effectively doubled the usable size of the property. We took five full-sized truckloads of garbage and junk out of the ground. Every square inch of ground was dug up down to perhaps 3 feet, and put through a sifter that I built.

A tree that was maybe 60 to 70 feet tall had fallen some years prior to our arrival in this place, coming to rest diagonally across the property. The tree had grown on a neighbor's property, but had been left to lie where it had fallen, and a small forest of saplings sprouted around it, growing around the through the tangled branches. Knitting and twining themselves to the old tree, and holding it to the ground. With only a chainsaw and muscle, the large tree was painstakingly cut into sections and neatly stacked on the neighbor's property for proper removal. The saplings were individually removed with a shovel, trowel, and clippers.

To our delight, we discovered bulbs and plants that were carefully transplanted and nurtured, and little by little, step by step, the garden began to take shape.

Nearly all of the plants were transplants, rescues (from areas that were being dug up for construction and development), or gifts; i.e. The hydrangea were sent as condolence flowers to my wife's paternal grandmother's funeral. Some plants were brought from other states by family as donations.

Every plant in this garden has a story. Each one of them is a friend that I have known from root, pod, or seed. Each has been a source of joy when it has thrived, or tears when it has not.

A garden is a strange and wonderful thing. One must have a great deal of optimism when planting a garden; for one must hold a belief that there will be a time when all of the hard work will come to fruition. And it does! All of the sore muscles, stinging blisters, scratches, bites, and stings are well worth it.

In this post, I will share some recent photos of my garden, and some of the wisdom that it has offered in thanks for helping it to grow.

Sitting in the garden, drinking coffee, listening to "Sunday Baroque" on NPR, and reading a book is not enjoying your garden.. it is enjoying your coffee, the music, and your book.

Sitting in the garden and creating a 'To Do' list of all of the gardening tasks that must be attended to is not enjoying your garden.. it is planning your work.

Sitting in the garden and breathing... appreciating the beauty of the plants.. feeling the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the breeze, the smell of the grass, the soil, the flowers.. listening the drone of the bees and the singing of birds.. the wind chimes tinkling.. feeling the textures of bark, leaf, twig, cone, branch, petal, and stone.. noticing the multitudinous teeming lifeforms that cover every square inch of ground, normally beneath our sightline.. marveling at the intricate geometry of nature... and truly realizing that you are a part of it all...

This is enjoying your garden!


SuvvyGirl said...

Your garden is beautiful!! I someday hope to someday have one that looks like that. I have never been one to have a green thumb but I think with some practice and less procrastination I can make it happen. I honestly think your blog has had the most impact on my life of any other I have read. It has really actually helped me a lot in just the week I have been reading it. I make myself slow down and enjoy what I am doing it. It has made household chores and work more relaxing and enjoyable and I'm trying to apply it to dealing with my 7 year old step son who is going through a rather persnickety phase.

SuvvyGirl said...

Also if you wouldn't mind someday explaining to me your story. When I think of a Monk I think of the little guys that live in the monastaries etc. Basically I would enjoy learning how you have gotten from point A to point B. I think it would help fill in the questions I have and make more sense to me. You are welcome to email me at

Bunan Unsui said...

I am very pleased to hear that my writing has had such an effect on you. Being able to fully live in the present moment is a treasure beyond measure, I think... As for the boy, kind and compassionate firmness along with a great deal of encouragement when things go in the direction you are hoping for are probably the wisest course of action in such a situation... I wish you the best of luck with the lad!

In Peace & Brotherhood,

Bunan Unsui

Sky said...

Beautiful! You put so much love there that it shines through the pictures and words. Very inspirational.

Mr. Guinness said...

Bunan Unsui,
while I'm sure you doubt my attention to your diary, it has caused deep inward thinking, and thus I began "The Doomsday Letter".
What it is is a letter you will never see until I have departed this earth. It is a letter to you, and to others who have read my blog, as well as my children, and my wife. It is not an "I love you I'm sorry I'm gone" but the opposite, from your writings and journeys, it is a "thank you for life, a thank you to you who have been a part of it, and a thank you to all who wonder what the journey is all about.
I'm not ill, diagnosed with some fromitable disease, but also a simple adventurer on the same journey through my eyes and mind.
Thank you for your vision of our journey through life, it gives me solace.
Mr. Guinness
and look for a post called "The Doomsday Letter",but not soon I pray.