Colorful pansy at pavement a small crack.

What is a Resilient Gardener?

What is a Resilient Gardener?

3 Guiding Principles for the Resilient Gardener:

  • We are creative and we recognize that we have choices.
  • There is always another way to get something done.
  • We never give up.

When I first began reading about Adaptive Gardening, I’d already been introduced to the concept, so I knew what the term meant, but I recognize that a lot of people don’t get it at first. That’s because the word “adaptive” is a funny word. It’s not a very sexy word, and it certainly doesn’t have much sizzle.

At my seminars, participants often say to me: “Okay, I know what adaptable means, but how does that apply to gardening?” I explain when someone is adaptive or adaptable, it refers to how a person reacts and recovers after setbacks, a loss, or tragedy. We each have our own adaptability quotient as well as our capacity to improve it and grow it. We can actually learn to exercise adaptability like a muscle. 

At one time or another, most of us feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, be it:

  • Our changing world around us
  • Physical changes in our bodies
  • A financial crisis
  • The loss of a special person in our lives

These stormy events can leave us exhausted and questioning our ability to push forward. In these times of weariness, how do we find within us the ability to keep going?

Guess what? Gardening can be a powerful healing tool at these times.

Master Gardener and landscaper, Tony Mekisich, told me he experienced a huge personal loss several years ago. He found planning a new garden, working with his hands, and creating something beautiful filled his heart with joy and gave him something to look forward to each day.

Expanding from Adaptable to Resilience

For many reasons I love the phrase ‘Resilient Gardener’. What does it mean to be resilient?

  • If you have a resilient disposition, you’re better able to maintain poise and a healthy level of physical and psychological wellness in the face of life’s challenges.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, those who are less resilient are more likely to dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed, use unhealthy coping tactics to handle stress, and develop anxiety and depression.

Resilience won’t make your problems go away—but it can definitely help you to see past them, find joy in life, and handle setbacks when they strike. You may still feel anger, grief, disappointment, and pain, but you can keep functioning and moving forward, which is the most important thing.

When we strengthen our resilience through times of discomfort, it becomes our path to inner peace. Most of the time we can’t stop the external course of things and how they show up in our lives, and quite often we have no control over what happens, but we do have control how we respond to what happens in our lives. Instead of letting our discomfort derail us, we can train ourselves to be more resistant and resilient to it.

I know this to be true—no matter how you may feel right now, in time, you will find your way back to center.

The really good news is that resilience is a skill that can be learned, and you can grow and expand it. This will help you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

How To Grow Your Resilience

  • Start by being aware of how you’re feeling. 
  • Be patient and gentle with yourself, practice self-compassion and self-care.
  • Tune into our personal and psychological needs and accept exactly where you are today. 
  • Turn your awareness inward by taking time to be still. If you don’t have a meditation practice, start one today. There are many app options to support you in developing and maintaining a mindfulness practice.

One Final Thought

Many of us keep our problems to ourselves, or try to figure it out on our own, but actually, reaching out to others for support can be an important and integral part of becoming resilient.

Toni Gattone

Adaptive Gardening Expert & Inspirational Change-Agent. Toni’s enthusiasm is contagious. She is passionate about empowering gardeners with practical, how-to information. While gardeners of all ages and abilities appreciate her work, she especially enjoys working with modern elders, boomers and seniors who are growing older and yet want to live bolder lives. Her posts are information rich, with helpful resources, that will keep you coming back for what’s new. Toni is a caring and compassionate gardening guide and cheerleader, and oh by the way, she’s very Italian.

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