Letting Go in the Garden

comments (2) October 16th, 2009

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Beth_Callaghan Beth_Callaghan, member
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Fantastic little artichoke buds
Argh!  The artichoke went and flowered on me!
Happy little bees
Fantastic little artichoke budsClick To Enlarge

Fantastic little artichoke buds

Photo: Beth Callaghan

If you ask virtually any of my friends, and especially my husband, I am nothing if not a sucker for control.  I like to be in control, I like to gain control, I like to wield the remote control, and my favorite computer key is CTRL. 

My experience gardening has been no different.  Staking tomatoes to manage their growth, intricately tinkering with watering schedules, hand picking pests off of plants: it seems I’m always trying to contain the chaos of nature.

But when I was perusing the garden recently, and I noticed—the horror!—that one of my beautiful artichokes had gone to flower, I realized I had lost control.  What to do?  Where had I gone wrong?  How could I have failed to harvest this fantastic vegetable at the proper time?  The garden had wrested power away from my meticulous management.

And then, as my three year old pointed out the beauty of this flower (“look at those purple spikes, Mommy!”), I noticed that the bloom was absolutely buzzing with bees.  At that moment, I had an epiphany: perhaps losing control was exactly what I needed to do in my garden.  My son was delighting in this monstrous new flower (and frankly, once I got past the ruined veggie, so was I) and its scent was attracting a wealth of pollinators to all my other edible plants.

So I decided not to fret about my blunder, and indeed, to consider it nothing short of good fortune.  The artichoke flower enlivened my garden and was doing its part in combating colony collapse disorder.  Not long after, I noticed that my zucchini were producing many, many more fruit (post-arty flower) than my yellow squash (pre-arty flower) had.

And, on an aesthetic level, I was absolutely fascinated by the dance these bees were performing on the artichoke flower.  There were often no fewer than six bees all crawling in and among the purple spikes, wagging their apiarian tails and wriggling in and out of the stalks.  I sat with my two sons—organically enthralled by this show, they—for quite a long while, just watching the bees.  I took a moment out from checking, regulating, and monitoring to simply let the magic of the natural world in.

This isn’t the first time my garden has provided me with its own wisdom, and a life lesson to boot.  This is why I garden.  The artichokes have shown me that a little chaos is a good thing, and that letting go of the stranglehold of control can yield plenty of ordinary miracles.

Although you’ll still find me staking tomatoes come spring.



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Comments (2)

KristaGarner writes: i also wants to see my garden.
Posted: 1:52 am on October 14th
lettucegrow writes: You would have to pry my remote control from my cold, dead hand. :)
Posted: 3:01 am on October 20th
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