Five things I’ve learned from my garden

I think it was Rudyard Kipling who wrote a poem about gardening in England.

There’s a line in it which I love – and it goes like this: ‘… and such gardens are not made, by singing “oh, how beautiful” and sitting in the shade’.

This is one of my favorite plants - my wisteria

This is one of my favorite plants – my wisteria

In other words gardening can be quite hard work. But it’s the kind of work that suits me just fine. I love to roll up my sleeves, put scruffy clothes on and head out into my backyard to get my hands dirty. There’s something that feels so back-to-nature about it. It’s hard to describe, but being in my garden liberates my mind and frees my soul.

I don’t want to get all airy-fairy about yard work, but it is amazing what you can learn when you’re doing something that’s so very different from your everyday office life! Occasionally, when I’m travelling I take a stroll down the business books aisle of the airport bookstore and I see lots of quirky titles including: “What Color Is Your Parachute?” or “Hannibal And Me”. They’re often about lessons learned in life that can be applied to business.

So in that spirit, here are the top five things I’ve learned from my garden.

1.      Patience

Even my cat appreciates the garden!

Even my cat appreciates the garden!

Sure we all want to see spectacular blooms and majestic trees. And there’s really nothing like sipping an ice cold drink on the patio looking at a beautifully maintained and well planned garden. But you can’t get those things in an instant. The pace of contemporary life is fast enough – with constant email, microwave meals and drive through banks.

But you can’t hurry nature. Plants grow at their own speed and you can’t make them grow any faster. And that’s a big lesson I’ve learned.

Take time. Be patient. Take a step back and let an idea or a process happen at its own speed.

Because patience brings forth flowers!

2.      Watering the soul

Water is the garden’s lifeline. Without water there is no growth. So as hard as you work at creating an outdoor oasis, without the nourishment of the rain (or the artificial help of sprinklers and hoses) your garden will dry and fade.

And that’s another lesson I’ve learned. I need to sustain my soul to keep myself flourishing! By taking time to learn new things, finding time to relax and taking part in activities outside of work – which are often easier said than done – I can achieve so much more.

3.      Weeding

It’s an icky job, but someone’s got to do it! It’s not fun but it can be very rewarding and it’s so important for the garden. By removing the weeds – those plants that are in the wrong place or stifling other plants – you allow the rest of the garden space to grow.

Weeds use up vital resources which deprive others. It’s a tough lesson to learn in business but an important one. Getting rid of the things which are holding you back or thwarting your progress – even though they can be beautiful – allows you space and time for you to grow and for your ideas to blossom.

4.      A winter’s rest

Winter is a tough time for a gardener. Just sitting looking longingly out of your French doors at a frosty wasteland. Or seeing your pride and joy covered in a snowy blanket of white.

This camellia is one of the first signs that winter's over

This camellia is one of the first signs that winter’s over

But your garden needs to rest. Your garden needs the time to retreat. And your garden needs the cold chill of winter to kills pests and bacteria in the soil.

And that’s a great thing I’ve learned: when all seems bleak and tough and hard to endure, there is a spark of faith deep within you that can sustain you through a winter. And when the Spring comes again it can burst forth with color and freshness and hope.

(Oh, by the way, winter is also a great time for choosing new seeds to plant and planning change in the garden!)

5.      Smelling the roses

There’s a moment in the early summer when I brush past a newly opened rose and it releases the most fantastic scent – delicate and sweet. It’s an indescribably delicious smell and it fills my heart with joy.

And what I’ve learned to do at that very moment is stop.

Not rush by to complete a chore, or jump in the car to drive to work or finish sending a text. Just stop. And, as the cliché goes, smell the roses.

We have so much to be thankful for. And it’s so important to take the opportunity to appreciate it and send a silent prayer of gratitude heavenward.

After all, if we can’t stop for a moment in our little earthly paradise and be grateful for our gardens, then there’s not a lot of point having them, is there?

Are you a passionate gardener? What lessons have your pastime taught you? I’d love to know your thoughts!