A Lily called Garden Symphony

So long as I listened to the whisperings of the garden there was little room for neglect and boundless opportunity for respect. 

Here’s a brief extract from my upcoming book, Beyond the Search. It may be brief, but it accurately reflects the way in which I work in the garden. This methodology gives me peace. I hope it inspires you, for these insights apply to much more than gardening. They are metaphors for the journey of life.

Enjoy, John

Have you ever noticed the way a good symphonic song builds? First, there may be just a few members of the orchestra, perhaps a trumpet and some strings. Next, the wind section and some percussion add to the sound. Eventually, effortlessly, the song builds until all the musicians are actively engaged and so is the listener with a wholeness of sound.

I was raised to begin a task, stick with it and see it doggedly through to completion. My initial methodology in the garden was to prepare the soil and then plant everything in one intense period of activity.

This didn’t last long. In the mystical realms of the garden, I was guided by nature to work in a totally different way; to go with a flow that knew no schedule I could make sense of. I’d be asked one day to plant a few seedlings of, say, cauliflower on one side of the garden and maybe a few leeks on the other. I soon discovered it wasn’t about my conditioned way of completing one job and then moving onto the next. It was more about listening to the building orchestra. I found I would work for a few hours in one part of the garden and then flow easefully to a completely different area. I felt part of the dance; one with the music. If God was the painter, I was the brush, the garden the artwork. The painting took shape in a way that defied logic. It was as if the gods of the garden ensured no part of it could be left untouched for long. There was a subtle justness and beauty to the painting so long as I went with the flow. So long as I listened to the whisperings of the garden there was little room for neglect and boundless opportunity for respect.

I still work this way. It is second nature to me today. I’ll set the spade down in the middle of a job to taste a leaf or a berry, to drink in the sweet fragrance of a flower. Remarkably, I’m always invigorated and refreshed by the meanderings from the task at hand. I feel as though I’m part of an illustrious symphony only I’m not in charge. I’m simply the baton in the hands of the conductor, an extension of a thought and an intention. My job is to listen and fine tune and allow the natural harmony to grow.

If we are not gentle with life, the garden within us dies.

In some ways it is like when I was a young manager of people with far more practical experience than I. My job was to allow them to express their best. My job was to facilitate and encourage rather than to direct.

So it is in the garden. What a privileged position to be in.

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

 

In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

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Cape Gooseberries, Feijoas, Bananas and More from the Garden April 2009

Cape Gooseberries, Feijoas, Bananas and More from the Garden April 2009

 

 

To reach our beach we need only walk along a footpath between two neighbouring houses. These neighbours have turned this public esplanade into a garden of beauty.

 

At the end of many early morning walks I return to the garden with handfuls of seaweed, mostly kelp that has washed in with a north easterly swell; a gift from the sea. After a storm I may fill several 30 litre bags with seaweed. This then sits covered in the compost area until I have a place to dig it into the garden.

 

When we first arrived here more than three years ago, the clay soil was heavy when wet, and it dried out and cracked quickly in the hot summer sun. Now, after four years of added seaweed, compost, grass clippings and mulched leaves and twigs, the soil is loose, friable and holds water well without getting sticky.

 

I allow many of my favourite greens to go to seed – summer and winter lettuces, kale, orach, fat hen, chickweed, amaranth, bok choy, etc. Much of the garden is a year round self sown mesclun mix. Lucia and I eat salad every day of the year from this wild, rich, tender and tasty mix of greens. In addition there are often surprise self sown plants popping up in the garden – tomatoes, passionfruit, alpine strawberries, pineapple guavas….The list goes on and on.

 

You give nutrients and love to the soil and plants, and they give so much back. One feels incredibly grateful for the freely given abundance of nature.

 

The kiss of the sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.

 

                                                                            Dorothy Gurney 1858 – 1952

 

John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

 

 

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