A Garden Is A Grand Teacher


A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.  Gertrude Jekyll


For anyone to nurture themselves, boundaries must be set.  This is an area I’ve struggled with over the years, though I’m getting better with it – and I accept responsibility for my actions beforehand in not setting boundaries, or not moving quickly enough when any boundaries I DID set were ignored.  One of my team and I have been working at helping each other in this area, having had similar struggles.  Diane took over an allotment, is journaling and recording her way through that adventure and all the lessons she learned – and one of the lessons that keeps coming up for her is the importance of boundaries.   Part of this is about protection. She wrote to me:

“What I have discovered over the last few weeks with thelifeallotment is the need for protection. Interpret this in whatever way you feel may be relevant to you. I had hoped that I could just plant my seeds and let them grow and enjoy the fruits of my labour – ha! Oh no. There are a few things to be aware of.

First of all, there were the birds who hovered and took the seeds before they even got to take root. Secondly, there were the pests who ate at the roots as they started to grow and ones who went for the seedlings as they started to shoot. Thirdly there were the rabbits, if the boundaries aren’t there in the first place to keep them out, they get to wait until things are really starting to grow then they take the bits they want and leave the rest – oh and the slugs will take the bits they leave. It’s very hard to keep the slugs away no matter what boundaries are in place! Lastly there are the birds who will wait patiently until the first day they catch sight of the freshly, ripened fruit and take it before you get to enjoy it.

It’s not that all these things wouldn’t have been given away to people around me in the end once they had grown. I wouldn’t have kept it all for me. I would have shared it all. But I didn’t get the chance to watch it grow and enjoy it and make the choices for myself. The choice was taken from me because I didn’t have enough boundaries in place and I didn’t put enough protection in place to reap the fruits of the seeds i had sown and all my planning and hard work – physical and mental.


This is how i see these lessons relating to your current plans. There are going to be people who are going to be the birds, pests, rabbits and slugs. Either trying to put you off before the project even begins or gnaw away at what you are doing as it starts. There will be others though who will enjoy and use, for their own benefits, all the good stuff you put out there and, as it grows further, and without the proper boundaries, keep coming back for more and those who will just wait for the right bits, take them and fly. I know that you are a very giving person, Caroline, but I also know that you have put a lot of work into everything you have done and have dreams and plans and needs for yourself too. Take care that you have the right boundaries and protection in place so that you get what YOU need from this project physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. As you said, you find balance and nurturing yourself difficult. It’s ‘Project Me’ not ‘Project You’. That’s not being selfish – that’s just laying down some protection”.


Among other things, I wrote back to her saying:

Strange the need for protection; when I’d just written that I’ve protected my heart by forgetting my body, or by hiding my heart with my body perhaps… we do need protection for we fight a spiritual fight on many levels, which we can forget…and it is a key part of  nurturing, protecting our body, our minds and spirits, our energy too… funny too, how you speak of boundaries, and how we need these, but they might change as the allotment takes root and grows.. Mind you, I was rather depressed, thinking you either have to see all these predators as being fed by you, and you helping them, or gardening as a total waste of time 😉 and it’s not so good when the choices are taken away from you about all of this, except if the lesson learned will benefit you in the long run?  But I hadn’t thought about this in context of boundaries either…. and I will have to consider this more deeply, as something makes me feel this is an issue, as I’ve started to set different boundaries with certain people at work as a start, and perhaps some at home too… hhhm… thank you for being part of team Caroline! Can’t wait to see you and catch up; we need the encouragers in our life, & even when we don’t feel like encouraging, we do, as well as getting comfort at the same time…. giving and getting, all at the same time. xx

And just as I needed time to reflect on what she had shared with me, and time to process the learnings, it seems that this was exactly what she was doing too.  Such is the value of these special relationships in my life; we simply help and encourage each other.  Diane wrote back with some further insight, which I love….

The insects, birds, pests & rabbits aren’t people – they are the lessons we have to learn. The challenges we face. The hurdles we have to climb….for our own personal growth and development 😉 Make sense? I started out wanting to make sure all my boundaries (fence etc) were in place before starting to sow the seeds then, because time was moving on and the timing for the seeds being planted was making me feel under pressure, as was the fact that most other people’s allotments were looking great and progressing and looking healthy and growing. They were also giving me some of THEIR seedlings, plants and extra seeds they were giving away. I felt I HAD to go ahead and sow/plant them. But this is now the result. Not through ANYONE else’s fault (they were just being so kind, generous, considerate and helpful) – just completely my own.  I should have just gone with my OWN instinct.


See the thing is, I don’t need anyone to tell me what boundaries to set – I already know them, at an instinctive intuitive level.  All I need to do is see my life as a garden and instead of sitting in a deckchair planning how it will look, or what I will do, to just get out and do it.  A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust, said Gertrude Jekyll – and it teaches a whole lot more than that.

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