The Secret to a Beautiful Garden
I love gardening, but that doesn’t mean it’s always been easy for me. Historically, I’ve been ever-so-enthusiastic about planting, and not nearly as attentive to that whole pruning and weeding bit. In the past it’s been hard for me to cull the herd, to make decisions about who stays and who goes, and to clear out enough space so all my seedlings can grow. I had the whole fertilizing and flourishing thing down, but I lacked the one thing that truly makes a garden shine— the ability to set clear boundaries. This season, I’m happy to say, that my garden is more beautiful than I have ever seen it. The flowers are radiant, the veggies productive, and everyone is deeply happy— and I attribute it all to a newfound love of boundaries.
Often people hear the word boundaries and think that means drastic moves— cutting people out of their lives, saying no to everything, or putting up a megaton shield. It certainly can mean that, but, at their core, boundaries are just deciding what you want in your space— physical, mental and emotional— and holding a loving fence line so that the things you want to flourish truly can. Boundaries are not about painting everything in your life in black and white, but becoming aware of just what colors you actually want dotting your landscape and making the decisions you need to cultivate that palette.
A weed is just a plant growing somewhere where you’d prefer to nurture something else. Even though the wild edible creasy greens are good eatin’, I still pull them up most places in the garden. Meanwhile, I love and actively encourage great mats of my favorite untamable weed— chickweed. Perhaps one day I’ll feel differently and want to pull the chickweed and leave the creasy greens, but that’s all part of the fluid beauty of boundaries. Just like a garden, boundaries can change from day to day, year to year, person to person. We must only be willing to trust what makes us feel good, balanced, happy, and supported in this life moment— and be open to pruning the rest for the health of the whole. Your life is your garden and you are the one who decides what grows in it.
Summer, for all its rush of growth and expansion, is the perfect season to teach us about boundaries. When we learn how to hold a good boundary during this high season of overwhelm (otherwise known as too-much-zucchini-time), we ace the test. We prove ourselves prepared to be able to weed our gardens in any season and can begin to truly cultivate the lives we so desire.
All the goodness we want to grow only becomes possible when we are willing to tend the gardens of our lives. To say a sturdy no, when needed, so we can say yes, oh yes to the rest.
In my new video Boundaries as Medicine we explore how learning to hold good boundaries is actually the most direct path to healing. We also look at tools and plant allies to help highly sensitive and empathic people learn how to stand their ground, and begin to plant and weed like a pro.
Today is the Celtic holiday of Lammas. A traditional time of celebrating the peak of the growing season, of blessing the first fall harvests and taking a sensational look at all the richness you have cultivated this summer. Historically observed with feasting, games, and gatherings, Lammas is the perfect time of the year to take stock of all the bounty of food, friends, and opportunities in your life and ask yourself— What do I love growing? And what in my life is past its peak and ready to be let go?
Right now in my garden I have several plants that are definitely ready to be weeded. The kale and the lettuce, old day-lily stalks and zucchinis gone rogue. With them I’m composting a few exhausting friendships, as well as my habit to stay up too late and all that unnecessary guilt over unanswered emails. I draw a boundary, I remove them gently, I let them go.
Never fear to pull that old lettuce when it’s past its prime. Because when it’s done, it’s done. Clearing it away will only make space for so much newness to come. So, take a moment on this golden-filled day to ask yourself what you truly want to cultivate in your life and use the tools in the video above to help you make the space for the great flowering to come.
Interested in working with the ultimate boundary holder? Check out our Sister Ivy flower essence to help reclaim the vibrancy of your inner garden.