How a Garden is Like A Mind

This is a 50-pound cement unicorn I recently obtained. I love it.

This is a 50-pound cement unicorn I recently obtained. I love it.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my porch garden recently. There are a few things I’ve been learning about, and yesterday it dawned on me that there was a blog worthy metaphor lingering there, ready to burst with the cosmos buds and nasturtium flowers.

It all started when I watched this little grey bug sitting on a stem of a morning glory. It was spitting little tiny drops of water over and over, they were falling to the ground. My curiosity was devouring. I looked at it for so long, trying to imagine what it would grow into. A gecko? I like geckos. But no, it had too many legs and a different type of personality. I held up random objects to catch the water it spat and examine it. I longed for a microscope.

I asked my Facebook friends and found it to be some type of aphid, which I should get rid of. Either with ladybugs or dish soap/water spray. I longed for ladybugs. Instead, I flicked him and his entire family off at every chance I got.

A few days later I saw a cluster of red ant-like scrawly things all clustered on a cosmos stem. I watched them, they didn’t seem nice. I did some googling and found them to be another type of non-desirable aphid. Apparently not dealing with them soon could mean trouble later. So I flicked them off.

Planting seeds is a commitment to having plants, which attract bugs. Some bugs are good for the plants, some bugs are bad for them. Knowing which is which can be useful because you can prevent a problem before it starts, sometimes, by flicking your fingers instead of having to spray your food and flowers with toxic things.

We plant all kinds of seeds. We may join a book club or reading group. We may buy a journal. We may throw away all of the sugar in our house and buy some flax oil. We make commitments to growing certain seeds in our life all the time.

But what about the bugs? We notice them when they are in full swing, don’t we? Some bugs can devour your entire porch garden and chomp on all the leaves right before your eyes, leaving you no option but to start over. Self-doubt can creep in to your budding writing group and tell you that you have no right to be there, you’re a crap writer and none of the other people like you anyway. Maybe it kills that plant in your life.

Unless you see it coming, identify it, and flick it off the stem before it has a chance to grow and eat all of your hard work.

Some bugs are good. Like ladybugs. And mud wasps. They eat the stuff you don’t want, the circle of life works in harmony with what you want on the tiny piece of the world you started relating with. Are there good bugs of the mind, too? Some people use affirmations. Some use meditation. Some use Yoga. We nurture these actions because we know that they tend to live off of and consume the small aphids of our minds- the doubts, the self-criticalness, the insecurity.

Just some thoughts on gardening and the mind. Hope everyone is well!

Do you have seeds that you plant in your life, do you enjoy the blossoms or fruit that they bring?

Do you have a garden, have you ever seen those little spitting bugs?

Do you have actions that you nurture in daily life to take care of the small little metaphorical aphids before they devour your entire garden?


25 thoughts on “How a Garden is Like A Mind

  1. You caught my attention when you mentioned metaphor which as you know… if you know me… I am a lover of! And you did not disappoint me…. I definitely have encountered a few spitting bugs in my day! LOL. Though, I thank God for the blossoms! Great little ponderings. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I was sent your link a few months ago and look forward to receiving your posts now and I always seem to find a connection with what you write. gardening, nature etc. has and will always be a part of my healing including the time I lived in an apartment on the 14th floor and grew vegetables and had to pollinate them myself especially the cucumbers and for my effort I did enjoy 2 or 3. I live in a house now and have a resident ground hog living next door who moved in last year. I dutifully went to my human neighbour and told him, the reply was a shrug and the comment on how we all need somewhere to live. I have been sober this last year and at the beginning of this year I was obsessing on what I was going to do with all the yellow dandelions as I had been making dandelion wine and I know I would have to taste the wine and I would definitely not give it away. I have been watching the ground hog every day now and he comes over to my garden and eats all the yellow heads of the dandelions and I say thank you every time for that decision to have been taken out of my hands, my dog and cat watch him do this as well and they both look back at me with the look on their faces saying he is welcome to the dandelions but nothing else and I chuckle to myself. I am finding more and more there is a purpose for everything and everyone that lives on this earth we may not always see the purpose but none the less it is always there……..

    • Wow, that is just beautiful. It gave me smiley chills reading it and imagining that well respected ground hog taking care of those yellow heads for you, how sweet!
      I also hear you can make dandelion pancakes with them πŸ™‚ But he seems to be enjoying them enough for everyone πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for reading!

  4. Your post makes me think of Jonah’s worm. The prophet was sulking angrily on a hill, hoping for the destruction of a city God was determined to spare. Jonah was afflicted by the Middle Eastern sun, then comforted by a gourd that quickly grew and provided him much needed shade. Ah, but then God prepared a worm that devoured the plant, causing it to wither away as quickly as it had grown, increasing the prophet’s chagrin – all to teach him a deeper lesson of God’s compassion. Jonah was obsessed with others getting their due and was ready to see an entire city obliterated to accomplish that, but he got all in a froth over a plant that was here today and gone tomorrow. Just makes me think (metaphorically) about the bugs I would flick off because of present personal whims and inclinations…bugs that have been prepared for me for this moment so I might look harder, see farther. In flicking away that bug I might be flicking away one of my greatest epiphanies. Thanks for observing spitting bugs, Jennifer! πŸ™‚

    • That is super interesting! I have, more or less, succumbed to letting those bugs spit on me. They now know I will flick them, so they hide in the deepest crevices between climbing morning glory vines, and just spit those little drops of water onto me when I sit out there. So I try to come to peace with it, and there are definitely plenty of leaves in the garden now for everyone to enjoy πŸ™‚ Thank you for always having something so applicable and inspirational to say, it brings big smiles to my face!

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  6. It’s truly a pleasure your read your blogs! Finding meaning and metaphor in everyday life. I don’t garden, mostly because I live in a Condo. I don’t have plants either because my cat eats them, and you have to be careful when you have animals. I do plant seeds (goals) for myself, I still fumble with fruitation, but trying is the key to any goal. Patience is also very important, for that are for tending a garden. You should post more pics of your garden this summer!

    • Thanks Stephanie! I will take that suggestion and post more pics- the other day I took so many, just trying to see all the plants from so many angles in the setting sun, such a magical place! The next post will surely have some πŸ™‚ I’m so happy that you like reading these posts, I agree that patience is so important and it’s always good for a reminder of that..sometimes I want the fruits to grow too soon πŸ™‚

  7. In my daily routine of roaming through my flowerbeds, I find the same striking resemblance of gardening to our thinking. For me, however, it’s seldom a case of aphids; it’s the daily pruning that gets me most.
    To develop a greater return in the blossoms of a plant, it helps to dead-head (or pluck) the flowers at first mention of fading or wilt. This kind of wrenches me in the gut, every time. It feels wrong to steal my lovely plant’s biggest and most vibrant blossoms, especially when there aren’t any others about to bud. It feels like a sadistic thing to do somehow.
    But if we don’t purge the stuff that no longer has a use in our perspective, we end up without any fresh room to acquire a new abundance. We essentially fail to thrive, in the long run.
    Great metaphorical stuff here, sister. Your insights are always compelling.

    • Wow. I have been doing this- with the dead leaves, the dead blossoms..I did not know to pluck them when they start to wilt. I had to pull out one cosmos plant yesterday, it broke my heart. It was covered covered covered in gunky egg stuff and ants, was struggling so hard, and was in a poorly planned pot that was over crowded. I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but it seemed like it, and I still wonder. When someone first explained “culling” to me, I think that’s the word for killing the baby seedlings that are weaker than the others, I nearly cried at the thought. And I didn’t do it. A hail storm did it for me. But yes, like you say, that is such a thing that we can do with our own minds and the first thing that I like to overlook because I can be such a mental formation hoarder..wanting to keep all my precious feelings and ideas and opinions sometimes..but without pruning there is less room and energy for new blossoms…thank you so very much for sharing that!

  8. Lady love!!

    Hey. I’m so sorry for not writing this until now. Without even reading through our previous conversation here in your comment dialogue, I had to swing back by and let you know that every single day since my last response to you, as I water my gardens I think of how desperately I’ve wanted to get back to you.


    I suggest (for any type of invasive bug, pest, aphid, and even for the highly common fungus infection of powdery-mildew– which I currently am battling in my flowerbeds) an aggressive treatment of your flowers and/or plants. While there are numerous synthetic agents available rather cheap, the organic route is both higher quality as well as more effective.

    Saf-T-side spray is an excellent option for eradicating aphids, as it will also eliminate what you don’t see with the naked eye — the larvae, which pose the greater risk to your plants than just the larger pests that you’re flicking off the flowers. πŸ˜‰ Additionally, it prevents AND eradicates powdery mildew (“PM”) — most unbelievable asset, if you’ve never struggled with PM then please just take my word for it. πŸ˜‰

    As far as that funky word you used for removing the smaller seedlings to aid in healthy growth and plant spacing in areas of high density seedlings (like when you planted a bunch of seeds and you need to remove a few to prevent overcrowding), YES, I also struggle emotionally doing this… So much so that I typically wait until the last minute when it absolutely must be done and then I don’t actually chuck them… I dig them up and find anywhere I can to re-plant them. Needless to say, I’ve got about as many random plants in freaking pots, thousands of pots, all over our property as I have plants in flowerbeds… And I have five massive flowerbeds, lol!

    Even if you cannot keep your extra babies, I recommend this: acknowledge to this seedling your appreciation for it and as you pull it out, shift that sad energy into recognition for your remaining beauties that your are sharing an act of encouragement and love into their life source, and tell them Happy Growing! I’ve had to thank many of my trashed seedlings too, so I empathize. But looking at it this way helps.

    Hope you are well! I’ve been too busy to stay caught up with your writing but I’ll check back in a little bit if time allows. Love ya!

    • Oh! I have ADD, legitimately so forgive my sometimes incoherent ramblings but I forgot the other organic option for aphids and mites and such…

      It’s called Neem Oil and despite its rather steep cost of $20 (which isn’t outrageous but can sound a bit much compared to the synthetic options), it is bottled in concentrate form and is intended for use with a one-to-twenty dilution ratio (I think, although read the label before you take my exact word for it)… Essentially, you will end up with the equivalent of sixteen gallons’ worth of the potent (and highly effective) hippy juice.

      Although corporate retail stores will not usually carry it. Which is fine by me because corporate retail stores are evil IMO lol, so you’ll need to order it from an online supplier, or, if you’re residing in a heady/more progressive area, you might even have a botanical/horticultural supplier locally. (Go local!) πŸ˜‰ Ha!

      Love and hugs and happy gardening soul sister. πŸ˜‰

    • Aw thank you SO MUCH! I have been doing pretty well with the bugs- those big ones have dwindled, I think that the geckos are eating them and maybe the mud wasps as well, though I’m not sure. There aren’t as many as before though, and the morning glories don’t seem to mind- they are thriving almost more than is comfortable! And the main plants that are having issues are the sunflowers..they are still growing, but the bugs seem to congregate there. So, they are taking one for the team, and every so often I use the scent free dish soap mixture and spray them πŸ™‚
      You are so wonderful and thank you so much for taking the time to write all of that! I think that next year, I will try the spray you mention! I think of you whenever I am picking off the zinnia flowers πŸ™‚

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