Not Just A Garden

When I returned from my six week “celebrating life” holiday to find a garden of dead and dying plants, the watering system we put in place failed, I was devastated. Strong word but you see these were much more than ‘just’ plants. Many of you know that during my healing journey my garden became my magical healing place, where I could be in silence, pottering around, giving myself the time and space to have conversations with myself. 

This reminded of my ability to make the most of a situation. Always looking for the positive. “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” said Epictetus 135AD, a Greek philosopher who was born a slave, he should know!

My garden’s demise was a good metaphor for for the process, preparation and healing of my body. Let me explain… 

I was faced with a garden of dead and dying plants. Dried brown plants without an ounce of life in them which had become a home for pests and undesirable creatures who were determined to make the most of a diseased space. Could this sound a bit like a cancer? 

The first thing I did was cry. Then I got angry, really angry. Then I tried to blame someone or something. Then finally I realised I needed to take responsibility for repairing my healing garden. Hmm… sound similar? Sure did this when I was diagnosed!

Next thing I did was to ensure the watering system went on everyday for an hour. I couldn’t bare to go into my garden for the first few days as when I did I found more dead plants which caused me too much pain so I avoided it (also known as “denial”!). Might I add I was also jet-lagged from the overseas flight so I personally didn’t even have the energy to do much else except turn the tap on. (Survival mode)

Then after a bit of internal processing I knew I needed to ‘surgically’ remove all the the dead plants. As I took every cut and dumped them into into the green waste bin I knew I was making way growth (healing). 

I also celebrated what was left. (Ah the gift of gratitude. Making everyday count.) What plants survived the harsh dry Australian summer did so because they were very healthy to begin and were strong and hardy. (Luckily my health bank account was high when diagnosed) 

What I didn’t do, as much as I really wanted to, was to rush out and purchase new plants. I needed to repair what was left and create a nurturing environment for new growth before planting anything new.

So I made sure all the pests and weeds were removed plus I gave the garden regular organic feeding. (Remove the toxins and give nutrition.)

While doing all this I also discovered hidden joys underneath the dead leaves like new buds and to my delight one of my orchids even grew a double bud which proceeded to flower. When I was cutting away the dead and dried foliage I realised that even in its dead form some of the flowers looked quite beautiful and I even bunched up some dead flowers into an arrangement to remind me to always tend to my garden. Always. 

So now in only a few weeks after my return I am again getting immense enjoyment from my magical healing garden and my intention is now to share the beauty and joy that this healing space gives me.

And yet another good part of this story is the local nurseries will do rather well as I replace new plants to fill the spaces where the existing ones haven’t grown back. New opportunities and beauty. Which I also found during my healing journey as my cancer experience did (and still does) provide me with opportunities to see things, do things and learn things that I never would have noticed bc (before cancer).  

And the final lesson is that your garden might be able to go without water and care for a short time but just like your health, if you continued to neglect it damage begins, and repairing damage is much harder than maintaining a healthy garden, or body.