Stress and a Pair of Garden Shears

curb garden

Curb garden in need of some TLC

It’s been a stressful week. When your heart is open, it acts a bit like a sponge. The sadness of others laps at my soul.

The news isn’t mine to share, and sharing it won’t change it anyway. Instead, I donned my garden gloves, picked up a pair of garden shears and got busy. In my world, pruning is therapeutic.

Cutting away at dead growth or removing crossed or brittle branches helps shape the plant and ready it for fall. I worked my way through the curb garden, the triangle garden, the side garden and one of the areas in front of our sickly tree.

As I reached into the soil to plant additional bulbs, I unearthed several narcissus from last year. I tucked them back in for the winter, and made new holes a few spaces over. I like imagining the bulbs resting under ground, storing energy till they make their early spring debut.

chocolate mint

Chocolate mint taking a shortcut

Chocolate mint has been running amok, sending shoots out of the bottom of the planter box. I cut back what I could, then stretched the shoots over the top of the box and pruned them clear of the gravel. That incredible scent tickled my senses as I ran my hands through the leaves.

Two unidentified plants are now a meter tall. I don’t know what they are but they’ve made it this far so they get to stay. Novelty is good, even it they do look a bit out-of-place.

mystery plants

Two mystery plants, one meter tall

I pruned away the diseased branches of our Magnolia. It’s possible I went too far this time, but after hours spent trying to defeat Magnolia scale, drastic measures were due.I removed branches from the shrubs below the tree, taming them back to the walkway’s edge. The last of the summer annuals were next. Piles grew in corners here and there. I filled the wheelbarrow, made another pile on a small tarp and brought order to the garden. My back ached as it grew harder and harder to stand up. I worked some more.

garden surprise

A lovely garden surprise

By day’s end, I’d logged four hours in the garden. I pruned, pulled, chopped, raked, and swept.  I planted spring bulbs and dressed the side yard with a thick layer of mulch. Exhausted, I finally called it a day. I packed up my tools, washed away the day’s dirt and took my boys out for a quiet dinner.

Some days you tend a garden; some days the garden tends you.

24 thoughts on “Stress and a Pair of Garden Shears

  1. Lovely article! I especially liked the lines:”When your heart is open, it acts a bit like a sponge. The sadness of others laps at my soul.” & “Some days you tend a garden; some days the garden tends you.” For me, just reading what you write is therapeutic!!! 🙂

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  2. I hear you Ms Alys. Throwing yourself into nature and working like a trojan can do more to release stress than any amount of yoga or meditation. Learning to work through your pain comes easy in a garden. Possums eat magnolias so none on Serendipity Farm. I might have to fly you out to prune our place 😉

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    • The computer just ate my comment. It must be time for bed.

      I was saying that I would love to come for a visit, meet you in person, play with the dogs and lend another set of hands. What fun. I WILL make that trip one day. I will, I will.

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      • 🙂 That’s one HECK of a trip. Stevie-boy and I did it to go and visit his mum in the UK back in 2005/6 and spent Christmas with her and the rest of his family but what a plane trip! Almost killed me and much like childbirth, I learned…I won’t do THAT again in a hurry! 😉

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  3. Absolutely the garden tends us. I was reminded of this on my recent travels where I encountered Botanic Gardens next to hospitals. How sensible to have these healing places side by side. Your hurting heart made me think of this poem by the wonderful Michael Leunig. Perhaps you will understand it well. “When the heart
    Is cut or cracked or broken,
    Do not clutch it;
    Let the wound lie open.
    Let the wind
    From the good old sea blow in
    To bathe the wound with salt,
    And let it sting.
    Let a stray dog lick it,
    Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
    A simple song like a tiny bell,
    And let it ring.” http://www.leunig.com.au/index.php/works/poems

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  4. time in the garden is all the therapy I ever need. Restorative. In the RHS magazine I read that the government were considering recommending the National Health Service gardening to prescribe gardening instead of drugs for some patients!

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  5. When our hearts are open they will often ache for the pain of others, but better to bear the pain for them than live with a closed heart! And your heart is very open!

    I love how you say ‘some days you tend a garden, some days the garden tends you.’ Isn’t that a wonderful relationship – exactly how the best of friends take turns in caring for each other! I think gardening exhaustion is a good kind of tiredness – as long as the back comes right after a good night’s sleep.

    I’m sending warm wishes for a restful heart, for you and your friend. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Alys, what a beautiful story, though I appreciate in the background something that is not beautiful. Tending the garden, tending the house, it quites the storm in ones the head in times of trouble. I am always surprised to find, that whilst sorting out the garden or some other big project, my head feels so much clearer or even a better a solution seems to have presented itself. I hope things will be better soon, hugs from Ohio, Johanna

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  7. I am sorry to hear that someone has such difficulty as to stress you to your garden for comfort. I will think good thoughts for them. I too always want to go to the earth for meditative comfort. That’s why I so needed one. Your words were perfect. I liked that the garden tends you. Sending hugs to heal your heart.

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  8. Your garden becomes like a best friend, on good days and bad, it’s there for you. While you reach out to soothe your mind, the garden reaps the benefits. I really loved your writing today, as others have said, the last line is very touching and poetic. I think the angst we feel for others is, for the most part, out of our control if we are empathetic and caring people. It’s the price we’ll pay but know no other way. Nature and nurture, they are so similar aren’t they?

    I’ve got to remember this also,

    Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
    A simple song like a tiny bell,
    And let it ring.”

    Just lovely!

    Everything looks happy in your garden, perhaps your magnolia will enjoy better health too for all your hard work. I’m sorry to hear your back doesn’t go along with the program, I get it. I hope things can start to be better for all soon. It will take time. Big hug my dear, I love that you’re the compassionate soul you are. xox <3k

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  9. A day in the garden can be very healing, even if you do ache afterwards! I also get a sense of calm when working outdoors, and then sleep better too. Perfect therapy. 🙂

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    • It is perfect therapy, Cathy. I’m happy to read you feel the same way. I was outside again today for a few hours on a cool, overcast day. We’re hoping for rain by Tuesday. I hope it’s a long, cleansing shower.

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  10. Pingback: Pruning Tomato Plants - Gardening Help

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