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June 01, 2014 | Garden of Weedin' - Flourishing the Self

Some people go into the garden, or into nature because it's a place where they can find solace from their thought process. For me, the garden is the place I go to put thoughts into perspective...in order...gain clarity and weed the negatives or thoughts that no longer have purpose. Just like my garden weeds.

It feels like an exercise in futility...they just come back!

My friend (and student) exclaimed these words after spending 3 hours pulling horsetails and weeding out old cleavers for me. My reply was immediate - "and then I will be able to harvest the new growth for food and medicine again."

I do a lot of that in the garden. It's a seasonal process. First the nettles and dandelions, then the maple buds, horsetails, chickweed, miner's lettuce and cleavers. Then the clovers. Later the berries from trailing blackberry, wild strawberry, brambles, and eventually the fireweed petals. All these plants have a season for usefulness before they become weeds in my eyes, choking out other more delicate wild flowers and more ornamental flower beds, or encroaching on the veggie patch.

For instance, nettles make the best soil, but it's near impossible to grow lettuces or carrots when they are all over the place. In the first few months of late winter, early spring when the nettles are creating that great earth...and providing me with iron rich leaves for tonics and food...they are doing me a favour. Once the time comes to dig over the veg beds and sow seeds in early summer - out the nettles go (onto the compost to provide extra nutrients there).

The garden, like my life, is a delicate balance of structure and wildness. I have native plants and herbs flourishing alongside non-native perennials, food crops and plants that are just there for the bling. I gather plants for medicine, culinary use and decoration.

I've always found weeding meditative and profoundly satisfying, in part because it provides such a good physical metaphor for life experience. When I weed the garden, I also weed the negatives that go round and round in my mind, and from my life. It gives me respite from anxiety, objectivity and courage to make decisions, creative stimulation, as well as a sense of a job well done. The visual effects are immediate both in the garden and in my life.

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