To the person who says they have a brown thumb — in other words, prone to garden failure — I remind them the process of becoming a gardener is fraught with trial and error. Naturally, there are the basics of our education. The right combination of water, good soil, and sun definitely plays a part in a gardener’s success. And then there is the wondrous and complex journey of discovering plants, their colors, and their needs. The whole matter of putting them together is much like rearranging a room or creating a painting.
The garden is a vast laboratory in which the gardener, assuming they are dedicated enough, takes the road from novice to master. I say master with caution because not only am I not there in terms of my knowledge, I also think I will never be there, nor should I be, in terms of mastery over nature.
I am repeatedly humbled by the garden and what I have to learn. Too many mysteries, I suppose, as well as choices, to think I could ever hold the mantle that says I have learned all I need to have learned. Besides, it doesn’t sound like much fun to strive for such a goal. We are much better human beings, and happier ones I think, when we keep our minds open to what nature and others can teach us.
Sometimes when I work in the garden I talk to the plants and sometimes I am convinced they talk back. They may be telling me I need more water or more compost. And sometimes they don’t speak at all, standing quietly, giving back in infinite measure both beauty and healing. It makes me wonder how I became so fortunate to witness such magnificence.
I am sure some day they will say: there goes that mad woman talking in the garden again. I don’t care. I get back so much more from the garden than I think I could ever give. Where else can you find heaven so close? Where else can you discover that behind becoming a so called green thumb is the lesson of giving and receiving? It is a dialogue worth having and a lesson worth hearing, no matter how old you are.