We aren’t born gardeners, though many of us are born into a gardening tradition. I was thinking over some of the lessons of a garden, and realized if one pursues growing things as an avocation or a career there are certain qualities developed over time.
While no guarantee that a person will apply them in all aspects of life, the repetition of the lectures of nature make the lessons clear. Anyone diligent as a gardener will tend to develop some recognizable characteristics.
A Sense of Time Tuned to Nature
What is it that divides the punctual from the tardy? I have belonged in the latter group all my life, though I have struggled mightily to conform myself to schedules, appointments and all the paraphernalia of the dutiful. Yet it is I, not my punctual husband, that understands the truth in “make hay while the sun shines”.
Gardeners come to understand the times, the seasons of sowing and reaping, “a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted”, and how fleeting the opportunities may be for many things in life.
In our scheduled, sanitized, climatized, and otherwise engineered lives that bend, block, or bulldoze nature, there is a forgetfulness of this sense of timing that is rooted in natural processes. Gardeners become aware, and attuned to it by default.
Not all gardeners are patient people, and some might be more impatient than others, but along the way... from when that child first digs up a seed to “see if it’s grown yet” to when the old gardener plants a tree he will never see reach its maturity… there is a steady acquisition of this character quality. Nature teaches us patience.
Some of Nature’s schooling in patience is gentle. Waiting through a long winter, observing germination rates and conditions, looking for harvest after a season of weeding, watering, and feeding.
Other lessons are hard and bitter, but the gardener lives through them to plant another day, another season, and learns a little more of patience and its rewards.
Curiosity and Expectation
People who plant things expect an outcome, although they don’t always know what that will be and sometimes receive something very different than they had in mind!
If you garden you find yourself intrigued by some of the challenges, and looking up close at nature piques one’s curiosity. This can lead to all sorts of detours of research and learning, experimenting and observation. Rabbit trails of trying new plants or using a reputed method of growing. Gardening is full of trials… of the good kind, mostly.
The expectation of a garden always seems to engender hope, as well. I think gardeners will tend, on the whole, to be hopeful people. Usually there is enough of a reward to keep one looking forward, rather than mired in regret of past seasons.
Perhaps the nature’s abundance encourages it, but those who garden are often a generous lot. Just ask anyone who lives near the vegetable gardener who grows a large harvest of zucchini!
An age-old tradition among gardeners is that of the “pass-along-plants”. Sharing beloved or particularly vigorous growing plants with neighbors and friends, whole gardens may be made of such generosity. The regenerative powers of plants create the need to give away the excess.
We lift and divide, we gather up seed, we propagate and generate more plants than we know what to do with, and the result is… to passalong some of the riches of nature.
The result of generosity, whether by such accident or on purpose is to experience the joy in giving. One gains an appreciation of giving for the sake of enriching others or the enjoying the resulting smiles.
Generosity is often the byproduct of growing things.
What characteristics have you observed developing from your gardening experience? Are there lessons that have unearthed certain qualities in you or others who love the pastime of cultivating a garden?