The Self-Creating Garden




Spiritual Reflections

Pagan Witchcraft


Who Is Starweaver?

Archive of Past Issues

Site Index

Blog: Starweaver's Corner


There is a special pleasure in watching a garden come to life the second spring after it is planted. The perennials re-emerge, often looking much more settled and established than the season before. The soil is already dug and prepared, so the gardener can spend time puttering in the lighter work of adding new plants, cultivating, and trimming away old growth to make room for new.

There is another pleasure in a garden's second spring: volunteer seedlings. When I was younger, I attempted to be a very tidy gardener: I did not let plants go to seed (unless I was raising them for the seeds). Now, I often do. It's fun to see a lettuce plant in the summer, with its enormous vertical stalk and crown of yellow flowers. It's a part of the plant's nature that we seldom see, remind us that it is more than a source of tender leaves for salad: it is a living thing, with a will to express its nature, the blossom and reproduce before it dies.

So this spring I have lettuce seedlings popping up, near last year's planting but sometimes in funny little nooks and corners, like the edge of the asparagus bed.

Cilantro is notorious for bolting (going to seed) very rapidly in the warm months - gardeners often plant a new crop every few weeks to compensate for its quickness. Of course, instead of seeing the flower heads as the end of the cilantro crop, one can see it as the beginning of the coriander crop. The dried pods are easy to harvest and will keep the spice rack filled quite nicely for months. The seeds that fell to the ground last fall have now sprouted, happy and dense, amongst the newly planted onions.

The violas are similarly free-scattering, with seedlings emerging here, there, and everywhere. They are a delight, often coming back in slightly different color shades and patterns than the original bedding plants from the nursery.

Besides the pleasure of seeing life return in this fashion, these second-generation plants are also helping to re-create and re-invent the garden. Over time, they will settle into the areas where they thrive most naturally. Also, if you allow them to acquire at least some of their expanded domain of ground, the garden will, over time, become one that is more natural for the local environment. Plants that do well during a typical year's weather and in the local soil, will predominate. Ultimately, the patchwork of successful perennials and re-seeded volunteers will start to feel like a natural stand of plants, with the plants' intentions more in evidence than the gardener's.

Of course, I will always grow some plants just because I enjoy them, even if they do not take care of themselves very well from year to year. But, at heart, I like a garden that is a blend of my own intentions and the ways of nature. I see it as a collaborative project, one in which I make suggestions and to which I contribute some labor, but that in the end is not my own personal creation.

In the Garden is a regular feature of Starweaver's Gems from Earth and Sky

Copyright © 2008 Tom Waters