The Magic of Metaphors: Care Instructions for Our Gardens and Our Lives Part 2 of 3

Last month, I started a series of blog posts where I’m sharing some of my go-to practices that I’ve cultivated over the years for growing a thriving garden, how my love of gardening inspired me to take better care of myself, as well as some of the steps I’ve taken along the way, that have been instrumental in creating a rich, meaning-filled life.

If you haven’t yet read the first post in this series: Elements for Thriving, I invite you to start with The Magic of Metaphors: Care Instructions for Our Gardens and Our Lives, which includes the first three elements and the foundation for this Spring’s wisdom from the garden.

The next time you visit your chosen patch of soil, listen to the gentle sounds of nature. A quiet garden is guaranteed to restore perspective and nourish the soul
– Henrik Ibsen

This next post covers Elements 4, 5, and 6 and is filled with helpful reminders, simple truths, and practical activities that have helped me transform my garden and my life.

I invite you to make yourself a cup of your favorite tea or beverage, settle in for an intentional pause in your day, and consider these next three elements for thriving …

Element for Thriving #4: Rich Nutrients to Enhance Growth and Health

Adding nutrients to our gardens helps establish strong roots and encourages vigorous growth. Plants require a tremendous amount of energy to flower and produce fruit, seeds, and nuts.

Adding the macronutrients; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to our gardens creates an environment for thriving. I always use a 4.6.2 product like EB Stone’s SureStart whenever I’m planting or transplanting. I like to add earthworm castings because they are the superpowers that fight soil-borne plant diseases and repel insects.

What can we do to create a flourishing garden
and a life that’s healthy and fulfilling?

I’ve found the greatest difference I can make in caring for my physical health and wellbeing is through the food I eat and being intentional with how I choose my food. I try to remember to ask myself if I’m going to eat something: Will eating this contribute to my being well and to my wellbeing?

I also add quality supplements that provide additional vitamins and minerals to help keep my body healthy and my immune system strong and resilient.

Fresh zucchini and blossoms from the garden of Toni Gattone

I don’t always maintain a plant-based diet, it’s more plant-focused these days, so I aim to fill my meals with fresh, nutritious, and whole foods that are life-giving.

Just like in our gardens, when we enrich our bodies with nutritious organic food, we create the ideal conditions for our thriving and good health. When we cultivate this kind of goodness within ourselves, we become a conduit for wellbeing in others, which uplifts and enhances our relationships. 

Element for Thriving: #5 Prune and Let Go

I genuinely LOVE to prune. I find it to be one of the most rewarding parts of gardening.

Take roses, for example. They just LOVE to be heavily pruned. Every January, we prune and de-leaf our rose bushes so that we can clearly see what is going on underneath the protective layers of leaves. We look to see if there are diseased or dead canes and if any of the canes cross through the middle of the plant. If so, we prune them away so that our resilient rose bush will be that much happier.

It is this act of removing the parts of the plant that is no longer serving it, that supports my roses to continue to bloom and thrive year after year. 

The reward from pruning is an extraordinary production of happy, healthy, and gorgeous buds and blossoms.

This is my First Prize rose. She is always a beauty and is always the first to grace us with her presence every spring.

roses growing on a trellis beside the garden of Toni Gattone

We can carry this very same wisdom of pruning into how we create and nurture a life that’s healthy, joyful, and fulfilling for ourselves.

Human beings tend to be creatures of comfort and often settle into routines in how we manage the day-to-day of our lives. Comfort can sometimes simply be what’s familiar and what we know and isn’t always what’s best for us.

If we’re not paying attention, we can lose track of what’s important in this extraordinary life we’ve been given. What is undeniable and we can 100% count on is change. Circumstances change. Relationships change. We change. And sometimes we need to prune back the protective layers in our own lives so that we can get a clearer picture and an understanding of what’s at the heart of our choices — to see if there is still value and meaning there.

Being willing to look underneath the ways we’ve made ourselves comfortable takes courage, because we may find that we’ve been going through our lives, making choices, or spending time with people who are not serving us and supporting our thriving.

With awareness comes an opportunity to make different choices. We can choose to let go of, and move on from what’s not contributing to our wellbeing — and just like when we’re pruning our favorite rose bush, we can trust that our brave choices will guide us towards healthier experiences, circumstances, and relationships — and towards an even more rewarding and beautiful life. 

Element for Thriving: #6 Encourage and Strengthen Resilience

I write a lot about resilience — both in how I care for my garden and also in how I approach my life. For me, resilience is one of those golden keys to how I  think about nurturing my garden and living my very best life. It doesn’t mean that I don’t encounter pests and problems. I do. It just means that I plan for resilience in the way that I plant my garden, and how I make choices in my life — which has a lot to do with preparing for the inevitable setbacks that can and do happen.

We all encounter obstacles, whether it’s pesky pests we can’t seem to get rid of or not quite cultivating the most ideal growing conditions for something in our garden — or the disappointments and challenges we experience in our lives. What makes the difference in how we strengthen our resilience is by not giving up, by paying attention to the details, by learning from what’s worked and what hasn’t — and remembering that our gardens and our lives are always evolving and a work in progress.

Fields of flowers, lavender, and bees in their crates

There are five practices that have been especially helpful for me in strengthening and encouraging resilience in my life and in my garden:

  1. Keep diseased leaves away from the roots. The diseased leaves in our gardens and in our lives are the shadows that prevent us from connecting with the light.
  2. Mindfully tend to what’s wanting to grow and weed out what needs to be let go of. 
  3. Face yourself in the direction you want to grow, just like the magnificent bloom of a sunflower finds its way to directly face the life-giving energy of the sun, to support its growth and thriving.
  4. Being active and keeping moving is essential to resilience. Weaving movement and activities throughout our days will keep our hearts healthy, our bodies strong, and our minds sharp.
  5. And finally, the glue that binds it all together … patience. Patience with ourselves, patience with others, patience with the plans we had and the intentions we held, and of course, patience with all that we’re doing to nurture and care for our gardens. 

What’s true is that things can take more time than we’d planned, intended, and hoped they would. Gardening and life teach us that there is so much that’s out of our control and that things come in their own perfect timing.

That’s a wrap for post number two of three.  If you’re enjoying this series, keep an eye out for the final post where I’ll be sharing about how being intentional, practicing patience, cultivating support, and having appropriate protection is part of our gardens and our own personal thriving.

Ciao and cheers to your thriving!

4 thoughts on “The Magic of Metaphors: Care Instructions for Our Gardens and Our Lives Part 2 of 3”

  1. Thank you, Toni, I enjoyed your comparisons, and particularly enjoyed seeing your First Prize Rose. I had it in my Livermore garden and enjoyed its prolific blooms. Is it possible your printed word could be in black ink? I remember your favorite color is purple. My eyesight is declining as I have an eye disease. Adjusting to life like you to many changes. Peace and joy, Sincerely, ChristineB

  2. Hello Toni,
    I saved this reading for a quiet evening when I could fully absorb your wise words. Thank you for the metaphors and the sound advice contained in them. I so enjoy your kind and thoughtful writing and look forward to the third installment in this series.
    On a separate note, like Christine, I also find the current mania for grey type on a white background increasingly difficult to deal with, and I don’t even have the excuse of eye disease. Please, please, find a darker font colour more in keeping with your philosophy of adapting and thriving while aging..


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