Thoughts from my garden
We live in a world where we are constantly showered with “information” and advertising. At work, we are expected to be “flexible” and “willing to change”. We have to invest in stocks and funds, in order to secure the value of our pensions. We have to enter the “market” and compete, put our best foot forward, be persistent. The setting of wage rates is individual, so don’t bring any uncomfortable truths. People rush from work to the day-care centre, to the shopping mall to the TV-dinner. If you keep the speed limit, you are over-taken. We are always on our way somewhere, trying to get something done. The children have scheduled activities five days a week. Pick them up and deliver them. Hurry up now, we are late! Take a decision, quick, quick! Buy or sell? Your mobile is of the latest model, isn’t it?
It’s not hard to understand why the prescription of psychopharmacological drugs and long-term absenteeism are increasing drastically. We have no time to reflect, to think, or to contemplate. We don’t have the energy to get involved because there are so many things to be done. We can’t even manage to think about difficult issues. Thank God it’s Euro Million again on Saturday! Maybe we will win a few million, so we can stop working. And then…
Or at least when I retire, then…
Or to quote John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans.”
What in Heaven’s name has all this got to do with my garden?
But isn’t that obvious?
The garden is an antithesis to today’s society.
There is no use hurrying here. The seed won’t grow faster; the bud won’t open quicker.
And still, this is where something is really being produced!
Because the plants are the only true producers on our planet. What we in our daily speech call production is, at best, a mere refinement. In most cases, it’s nothing more than the manufacturing of garbage.
But the plants make sugar, starch, proteins, vitamins and fat from sunlight and carbon dioxide. Fibres for our clothes, wood for houses and furniture. And, of course, oxygen!
The fox-glove makes medicine for people with heart diseases.
The apple contains antioxidants that protect us from cancer.
The Echinacea helps our immune defence.
That’s what I call production!
But, surely, we don’t eat everything in a garden. And the extent to which insects and snails consume our plants will hardly lead to an elevated discussion on the excellence of the echo-system.
Still, in a garden we can become absorbed and activate all our senses: to see, smell, feel, taste and listen. These are intense experiences in the real world. Not the virtual one…
When the sun beams through the petal of a poppy, the sensation of beauty can seem unearthly.
But that is precisely what it isn’t. It’s most earthly!
We can see everything as resources in a garden, just like things work in the nature, which doesn’t know of any garbage. In my garden there is no “garden-waste”, because I have use for everything.
The rhododendron loves to have the autumn leaves and the moss from the lawn around its feet.
Fallen branches are put in the shrubbery to moulder slowly, and become a habitat for hedgehogs and insects, that live on dead wood. And the compost, of course, that gives new soil. Gardens also function as a refuge for insects, birds and other small animals, as today’s conventional and industrial agriculture no longer makes room for them, due to spraying and drainage, among other things.
Thus, when one discovers that the hedgehog is about to make its lair in a pile of leaves, when the squirrel is skipping around in the linden, and one almost steps on the frog that has moved in, when the bumble bees sit in the dahlias and become tipsy on their nectar, then the garden feels like a little paradise.
And, for a moment, one can contemplate and just be.