two things cannot be in one place: Our Secret Garden


“Two things cannot be in one place.  Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”

The Secret Garden

Sometime in my late elementary school days we read The Secret Garden.  I was enamored with the story.  I remember I poured over garden magazines and made a very detailed plan of my own secret garden on grid paper.  I even picked out a place in the yard for it.

Looking out at the garden of my home these next few months I am instantly transported to childlike wonder.  It really is magical.  It’s quite warm here right now (or, it was when I first wrote this.  Now it’s 68 and windy and raining.  See, only here a few days and already talking about the weather); at least a half dozen different types of bees hum and hover over the entirety.  They are so numerous their flight patterns and buzz give the garden, already alive, a visible and tangible pulse.

There are so many plants I am unable to identify and I’m taking it on as a learning project to figure out what they are and what I can do with them.  Thanks to our neighbor Stephanie, I do know there is a plum tree, a bay tree, a daisy patch… and lavender.  In Stephanie’s yard they have apple and pear trees, lettuce, basil, pole beans, rosemary, poppies, and ten times more lavender.  She is very clever in the garden and has already made jams and plans to harvest the poppy seeds!  I am excited to learn.

English gardens are quite different than American gardens.  They plants are stacked closely together and overall are a bit unruly and definitely asymmetrical.  A twenty foot tall tree/shrub on one side and a squared off 8ft hedge on the other.  Scattered throughout are small grassy spots, short walls, half-barrels filled with herbs and even a child’s “throne” seat out of cement.  These things bring life to children.  They stoke imagination and creativity.  I’ve never seen kids so excited and enthralled by a garden.  It’s beautiful, but it is meant to be lived in and run through.  It’s perfect for hide and seek, chase, stealing away to read, drinking tea, and listening for the church bells to chime the hour.

For all its wily goodness, the garden is a bit unkempt.   This garden did not just appear one day.  It was thoughtfully created.  At some time, someone loved this garden very much.  Right now, it needs a bit of care and weeding and cleaning up to tidy it up a bit.  No motorized weedeater needed, these are gentle plants in small places, gentle hands and small pruning shears will do fine.  The tiniest of changes someone would not specifically detect except in an overall assessment the garden looks healthier, more vibrant.  Clearing out the weeds so the flowers can show more glory.

It reminds me of our hearts a bit.  Like these plants, we were created to thrive in a perfectly wild garden.  However we spend much of our time, money and energy grooming and working and conforming to some sort of ideal or standard which simply is not attainable nor necessary for joy on Earth or in eternity.  In the name of growing up we prune ourselves harshly, not allowing God-given traits or joys to come and remain alive.  We even prune others harshly.

What does it look like for us to tend ours and others hearts in a way that lets the lavender grow lopsided to one side of the barrel, if that’s the way it wants to grow, and let the moss and mildew creep on the bricks in the back as a sign of character and age, rather than whitewashing it with harsh chemicals…  but still reach gently down and pull the choking thistle from the rose bush when it needs it?

I am hoping this garden will teach me much of this over these next few months.

ready or not, here i come!IMG_5772IMG_5732

IMG_5740IMG_5714IMG_5738photo by kate


IMG_5726photo by kate


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