Reimagining Adaptive Gardening: Your Life as a Garden

As we move through this extraordinary time, it’s clear the world is changing and unclear what our lives will be like going forward. What we do know is that it’s going to be different from the way it was. Each of us will be adapting to our new normal, but we can only take it one day at a time.

Tim and I continue to be as cautious as we can be. We’re both in our 70’s and I have respiratory issues,  which means we’re high risk, so we take being safe seriously. This photo was taken in Sausalito for our birthdays in March before everything changed.

Toni Gattone smiles with her husband, Tim on the waterfront.

When it comes to my work, not a lot has changed for me since Covid hit. I’ve been self-employed since 1990;  so I’m used to working from home.

I miss going out to run errands, having lunch with girlfriends, and shopping for deals at consignment stores. What I miss most is not seeing my community of friends and entertaining. Hopefully that will change soon.

During the quarantine, I’m spending more time in my garden every day. I feel blessed to have one, because it’s my therapy, my attitude adjustment, and my island in the storm.

Some of my favorite parts of my garden are: 

The two elevated raised beds — one for flowers and one for veggies.

A look at gardener Toni Gattone's Spring 2020 veggie elevated raised bed with broccoli and kale, swiss chard, spinach, two kinds of lettuce and strawberries
Toni Gattone's flower elevated raised bed overflows with an abundance of blossoms this year.

These are just a few parts of our garden that make me smile:

Adaptive Gardening expert Toni Gattone, shares her stunning Purple and white Bearded Iris sitting in front of her vintage birdhouses hanging on a yellow painted wall in her home garden.
Gardening expert for senior gardeners, Toni Gattone loves to use the golden blossoms of the Coreopsis flowers from her backyard garden for her fresh cut flower bouquets.
Adaptive Gardening Expert and Advocate for Senior Gardeners, Toni Gattone, captures her Clytostoma Violet Trumpet Vine meandering and trellising up the golden walls in her home garden.

As you might imagine, being a garden speaker and author, I think A LOT about gardening … You may have noticed? HA!  Lately, that thinking has taken me outside the proverbial raised bed box.

What if your life were a garden and the various parts of your life were the different plants in the garden? What would be the ‘care instructions’ for the plants — the various parts of the garden of your life? 

When I think about my own life, the care instructions for the important parts of my life look something like this:

    • Be in sunshine as much as possible.
    • Nurture with nutrients, vitamins and minerals, to build a healthy immune system.
    • Keeps hydrated, strong and lubricated to live a balanced, stress-less life.
    • Eat nutritious food, for thriving and wellbeing, free of pests or diseases.

Then it occurred to me — during this time of quarantine, haven’t we been given a gift to step away from the rat race and take a closer look at our lives to determine what’s important and what’s not, and rethink our priorities so they align with our values? Isn’t the extra space many of us are experiencing due to the quarantine an ideal time to think about what it is that will contribute to and support our fulfillment and success. Said another way …

Feed and tend to it, feed and tend to yourself.

  • Consciously develop your resilience muscle to accept what comes your way.
  • Open the door to a new way of living/being/aging. Remember: “There’s always another way to get it done.” 
  • Practice asking for help, and be open to receiving it, and to be supported.
  • Develop the courage to put yourself on the line for what you believe in, down to your toes.
  • Be curious to try new fun things, learn new ways, and new people to be with.

What’s not working for you anymore? Another way of saying it:


We’ve all been in relationships and situations in our lives that are ‘dead wood’ and need to be cut out, or let go of, so we can move forward without drama and angst, to grow and thrive. Sometimes we forget that we can prune out relationships that don’t work for us anymore. You know which relationships they are. Now is the time to let them go.

Using these three best practice guidelines for pruning, here’s how to proceed:

  • DEADRelationships and situations that are dead must be the first wood to be cut out; because guess what? They’re dead. Dead means they aren’t ever coming back, so they no longer serve a purpose. They only drain energy and time.
  • DISEASEDIf you’re in relationships that are diseased, that are causing you dis-ease — they’re not healthy for you, so get out your pruner and cut them out. It’s time — and then be watchful they don’t return.
  • CROSSING If you have relationships or situations that are crossing your values and what’s essential for you, they are at odds with your core.  If something ‘crosses’ what’s true and right for you, they need to be cut out to make space for the healthy canes/relationships/situations to be strong and productive with abundant blossoms/benefits.

Whatever stage you’re at as you tend to the garden of your life, I hope you’re growing from what you’re planting and thriving from nurturing what is best serving you.

6 thoughts on “Reimagining Adaptive Gardening: Your Life as a Garden”

  1. Hi Toni!
    We met at Catarina’s author/publishing event about a year ago (we sat next to each other). I love your blog and pictures of your beautiful gardens. Thank you for bringing light and growth to the world.
    Beth Lendrum

  2. NIcely done! I enjoy reading your articles and especially seeing lovely photos of your garden and of you and Tim. Virtual hugs to both of you!!


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