Goodbye summer, goodbye garden

When YogaDawg posted his video “Flying Through YogaDawg’s Garden” in September 2009, I had no garden. Gardening was, to me, like knitting, camping, and using an SLR camera: something I imagine doing… someday.

But his garden tour was irresistible, capturing a lazy summer day amid an unfussy burst of green, green, and more green. How delightful it must be, watching perfect little tomatoes ripen before your eyes!

This spring, I moved to a house with a cute backyard garden. The mature trees and plants seemed to be thriving on their own. So, during the initial post-move weeks (uh, months), the garden remained untouched.

Finally, in August, I decided to intervene; the clover weeds were growing wild. The soil was packed solid from a gloriously sunny Vancouver summer, so I began working the day after an unusual downpour. Progress was slow. The ground remained hard, roots ran deep, and scampering encounters with daddy longlegs made me jumpy.

I piled the dug-up weeds and roots in mounds, and quit in far less than an hour. (I’ll never accuse my parents, both green thumbs, of not exercising enough.) I looked at the garden beds. Sigh. They looked virtually unchanged.

With my writing and blogging, yoga training and teaching, summer travel and new pets, gardening fell to the wayside. Now it’s too late. Leaves are dropping, and the gloomy drizzle of winter is here.

I failed in my job as household gardener (foisted on me because I come from green-thumbed stock), and I’m feeling rueful. I might get a second chance come spring, but never again can I have a summer garden of 2010.

If I eventually do love gardening, it will be a learned pleasure, an acquired taste. I wasn’t compelled to garden the way I’m compelled to practice yoga or write my blog.

Were you drawn to your passions and pursuits immediately or gradually? And have you ever abandoned a project that seemed appealing but simply didn’t suit you?


  1. Hi YogaSpy!

    Your blog has filled a ‘gap’ in my practice and motivated me to develop my home practice. I also enjoy the dialogue.

    Sometimes I feel isolated & disappointed in yoga classes (with the music, distant teachers, and a contrived ‘spa’ setting).

    I have a studio that I enjoy, but it’s harder & harder to find a good teacher.

    I’ve been practicing for 10+ years, and I want a teacher to have more experience & knowledge than me, who’s approachable & insightful.

    I recently attended a class at a trendy studio in Vancouver.

    There was too much space between everyone, and the instructor didn’t modify anyone or make any kind of personal connection. It might as well have been an online class.

    I was quite emotional following a breakup. All of a sudden, in savasana, I started sobbing. And I felt like I was in the middle of a shopping mall — not at yoga.

    I also have a problem with teachers who talk about “bliss”, who encourage you to “allow the bliss to wash over you” etc.

    A lot of times I don’t feel bliss in yoga. It’s a practice that takes courage because I endeavor to be truthful about what I feel.

    To resist suffering, or have an expectation of ‘bliss’ discourages me, and makes me feel isolated.

    I appreciate a teacher who can cultivate courage & strength in her/his students.

    Sorry — huge tangent there — getting to gardening! I’m a gardener — that’s my profession!

    Gardening has enhanced my yoga practice more than anything else in life.

    If gardening is ‘hard’/painful, then you’re doing it wrong, taking on too much too soon.

    It’s like asana — there is a balance point where you’re struggling, but not aggressively pushing.

    Just like you notice your students’ bodies (some have rounded shoulders, some have tight hamstrings), every garden is unique & every garden needs work.

    As my gardening teacher tells me, every weed tells a story. Rambunctious clover indicates water pooling / lack of drainage.

    My yoga asana practice brings up questions that get answered in the garden & vice versa. Gardening is solitary for me.

    Just like every pose has a subtle ‘feeling’ about it (some energise, some cultivate balance etc.) so too with plants.

    Oak trees are calm & balancing (like tree pose).

    When I’m not sure what to do in life (lacking clarity or direction or motivation etc.) I take my cue from the garden.

    If it’s fall, the trees are dropping their leaves (what they don’t need) and rooting down deep for winter.

    So it’s time to let go & dig deep!

    Also, they don’t drop their leaves in one day — it’s a process that takes weeks, and happens one leaf at a time, and they allow the wind to do the work.

    Trees survive best in groves (and they tend to die when they’re planted all on their own). And there are networks for exchange of nutrients in the soil. All of life is interdependent, and death is everywhere.

    Your very own, very first 2010 garden was not a failure — it was what it was!

    It’s like yoga — some years you’re healthy & bendy & focussed, some years you’re injured & strained & distracted. This is the process of growth!

    Everyone’s first season of gardening sucks. Your looking at your friend’s garden & wanting that beauty is like a beginner yogi looking at pics in Yoga Journal & feeling discouraged.

    A good garden takes years to cultivate. It’s like good sex in a relationship.

    I’m trying to win you back over to gardening!! Starting with an outdoor yard is biting off more than you can chew.

    Your garden should be conducive with your heart, physical energy, and time.

    If you love to cook, start with a windowsill herb garden (garlic, basil, parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, fennel).

    Or pick one tree or rose bush that you love and nurture it every day for 5 minutes and observe it growing and changing.

    Since you’re a writer, you might try planting varieties of apples (or other plants) that were in different writers’ gardens.

    Or grow veggies in your own Karma garden, and donate the produce. Just pick one small thing to start.

    And get a community — just like in yoga — to motivate you & inspire you.

    You could rent out your garden space to avid gardeners who live in condos…and make some extra money in the process!

    Thank you for your writing, and cultivating this community (a living, dynamic garden of sorts).



    p.s. i do (reluctantly) understand that gardening isn’t for everybody (just like yoga)…having re-read this, I don’t want to be pushy, just talk about how yoga & gardening go hand in hand for me.


  2. First, thanks Spy for spotlighting my video. Truth be told, my garden is one of the few things that prevent me from blowing my brains out at work. I agree with Tricia that “Everyone’s first season of gardening sucks”. Mine sucked for about three years as I built up the soil and experimented with differnet plants and things (also kept a journal to remind me when to plant, what grew well, what didn’t, etc. Total geek…:) In any event, there is always next year…
    Stay well and all the best to you.


  3. I agree with Tricia and YogaDawg- your garden was not a “failure” and neither are you as a gardener.
    Moving into a new space takes time to adjust and get to know your new surroundings. You are now just that much more prepared to commit the emotional, mental and physical time to nourish your very own garden.
    Whether that is a small pot of tomatoes, or a full blown vegetable garden. 🙂

    For example, I wanted to have a garden this year- didn’t work out cuz of our move and the fact that initially I didn’t think we had any outside space. At the end of AUgust I realized that our rooftop would work. So, we’ll be scoping it out for next year and planning well in advance 🙂

    Many Blessings to you this Halloween!


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