GARDEN OF GRATITUDE: creating a sense of belonging through playful work

Why Garden of Gratitude?

Because whenever I go there I feel grateful.

Grateful for this tiny piece of land where I could explore my relationship to the Earth in the heart of a loud and speedy city.

Grateful for sensation of touching the dark rich soil and witnessing the life force coming out of it in the form of sprouting seeds, growing bodies of plants and the rippening fruits.

Grateful for picking the fresh herbs when I feel like having a herbal tea and sip it outside surrounded by them.

Grateful for making friends with all sorts of creatures that found their hideaways in the garden.

Grateful for a space where we can make an open fire or have a bath under the night sky.

Grateful for a possibility to show it all to my little boy.

Our backyard is a gentle reminder where do we all belong deep in our hearts – to Nature.

The process of becoming

This is not my kind of garden at all! I love grass and trees and asymmetric shapes… I thought when I first looked at the long stripe of concrete laid between two vegetable beds that time only covered with blackberry bushes. There was also an old broken shed that was falling apart and nice rosemary bush in the very end of it. That is the only alive reminder of the past form of the garden.

Through nearly five years of slow no-cost transformation I have learnt very precious lesson: in some cases if you get exactly what you want there is no more space for creativity, invention, improvisation and play. In other words no space for your own imprint. It is done. Completed. This garden took me on much more adventurous and enriching journey – I have been witnessing it becoming my type of garden through our work and love.

It offered us free space to practice skills that we yearned to try in our own way – gardening and building. On not even 50 square meters that the backyard offers we manage that really well. It became a miniature of our so-called big dreams – that is to live on a land and build our own house.

Garden as marriage between masculine and feminine

In my eyes our backyard is a visual representation of our marriage, as well as the marriage of masculine and feminine energy in general. If we leave each other space and collaborate when it is needed, it works well and we can create beautiful things. If we interfere too much it leads to arguments and imbalance.

The input of my husband is all the very visible, stable, firm, lasting, rationally planned and built – the pergola, the shed, the playhouse for our son, the sauna and hot tub. My input is much more subtle – the creation and care of the alive ever-changing garden. I am the one in charge of cozy areas to sit, sip a cup of tea and feel it all. I also add to it little playful bits like mirrors, ribbons, statues, paintings and poems on the walls.

In the core of both of these realms is the immense passion to create. We share an interest in reusing the old things and materials instead of buying it new (95% of the materials used are recycled). We are also exploring different forms of exchange – energy/help, skills, tools, advice. Exchange can happen not just between people I have discovered. Good example are the herbs – most of them I planted from cuttings that I took from open communal gardens. Now when they have grown I take cuttings from them and plant them in parks or give them to neighbours.

Questioning the idea of owning a land

Sometimes we hear: why have you invested so much energy in this space when it is not yours? We live in sharehouse where we only rent one room. And we know that one day we will leave because in our hearts we are not city people. We have a land in our home country with many dreams connected to it.

Personally I don’t really relate to the idea of owning a land. It can belong to you (and you belong to it!) when you give it care in our own unique way. What creates a sense of home is your own authentic imprint in a place. The process of transformation and lessons taken from it. There is no final form to reach. What counts is the present joy of creation, the possibility to play,  to observe, to learn how give and take in balanced way. Pretty much like bees that are coming to pollinate the herbs in blossom.

The bee on the blossoming oregano plant.
The bumble-bee pollinating the lavender.

Reconnecting to the cycles

I feel equally home in our backyard as I feel in the house. Actually maybe even more – because there I am in direct touch with the Earth, my ultimate home. The plants are its messengers reminding me about this precious connection. Next to them I feel more alive myself. I watch them grow often from seeds. I see the miracle of life from the very beginning. I am nourished by their beauty, their blossoms and fruits. I witness their death or rebirth after winter. I am learning about their cycles and through it about my cycles.

It is spring equinox today, the first day of spring. I see the spring coming physically through the plants, the whole garden slowly awakening each plant in her own time. The rosemary already started to blossom, chives is now nicely high as it has been out of the ground for a while, raspberry and black currant bushes have just tiny fresh green leaves, lemon balm miraculously came back to life leaves just low above the earth, mint is still sleeping, radishes and lettuce seeds in the ground, tomatoes sowed indoors already sprouting.

I receive a lesson for each season – this is a time of waking up and growing, there is also time of giving fruits and then time of rest and gratitude.





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