Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pruning my physical and mental gardens.

Rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) in front.
I’ve been tidying the flowerbeds and yard this past week.

It had crossed my mind in recent years that some of this work need not be done by hand, though of course that is the most peaceful way to accomplish the task. However, as my gardening time is limited this year, on Sunday I gassed up and restrung the weed eater and took the tops off of zexmenia, dried out grasses (trying to avoid the little bluestem), blue mistflower, live oak seedlings and anything else in my path.

Yes, it’s faster, and yes, it’s less peaceful.

I’ve trimmed by hand, also, cutting back the lantanas, flame acanthus and autumn sage. There is more to be done, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.

Narcissus (Narcissus tazetta italicus) with
Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) behind.
I really enjoy this time of year in the garden. Removing brown, shrubby, messy foliage and leaving behind bristling clumps (a.k.a. dormant plants), variegated brown mulch, and small sprigs of green poking their heads up here and there is rewarding. After cutting back a large area of new gold lantana, I discovered the narcissus bulbs planted a few months ago have come to life, with leaves several inches high. Big smile.

I can see clearly the limestone outlines of the beds, rocks painstakingly collected and arranged. Later in the year, plants will spill exuberantly out of the beds obscuring those borders.

I wish I could enter my mind and clear it as effortlessly.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if one could prune the mental deadwood away?
(One would have to use hand clippers; a weed eater would be entirely too ruthless for this job, and the noise would echo off the inside of one’s skull.)

The sticks you see are new gold lantana (Lantana 'New Gold').
Cutting back the deadwood exposed violets (Viola missouriensis -
I think) and oxblood lily foliage (Rhodophiala bifida),

Imagine cutting away dead limbs of imagined insults, useless worries, baseless grudges, unpleasant memories. Imagine leaving only useful knowledge,   hopeful plans and lovely memories, in a clean, organized and peaceful mental garden. Imagine hauling all that ugly stuff far away to decay.

Imagine a brain like a Zen garden.

Stepford wives probably had Zen garden brains.

All that ugly, unpleasant stuff contributes to who I am, of course. The trick is to encourage that stuff to compost internally and enrich my little brain. To keep it from poking and prodding here and there, interfering with healthy, positive thoughts.

When next I am working on cleaning the garden, I think I’ll visualize tidying my mind, also. I won’t try to clear-cut either one, but will prune and neaten as necessary to encourage beautiful growth.

I know this works in the garden. We’ll see if it works in my head, as well.


  1. GREAT post! What a way with words and ideas. I need to prune myself a bit.

    I live in Lago Vista and read you regularly since we have similar habitats.

  2. The weedeater for oak sprouts sounds like a good idea. It would be nice to clear our heads as easily but I'd want to keep the good memories.

    1. You would never think live oak sprouts would be pesky, but they certainly are!

  3. On a Hays County Hill Garden HelperJanuary 28, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    come to think of it, your mental gardens have become a little overgrown………….!

  4. What a lovely post. I'm going to use your analogy and let my mind declutter as I prune.

    1. I'm not sure it's worked as well as I'd hoped . . .

  5. Oh that gardening thing makes philosophers of us. (It may just be all the quiet time alone.) But I quite love your image of 'composting' the bad memories/feelings-- plow them under and plant something nice!

    Does that make a therapist kind of a mental lawn maintenance service?