There is nothing like getting out on a warm and sunny late winter day to prune in the garden. The timing is perfect for the plants and I have been on the lookout for any excuse to get out to play in my yard again. My berry patch was at the top of my to-do list so I set off with pruners in my pocket, sunglasses on my head and a smile on my face ready to take on the task at hand. 

Pruning offers my mind the opportunity to wander and explore. Is it funny or unsettling that I do some of my best thinking with sharpened steel in my hands? For whatever the reason my drifting thoughts began to bridge the space between my garden and (of all things) politics. 

Yes, I have both blue and red berries in my garden with nearly equal representation.  Upon further consideration, I determined that I have been maintaining quite a diverse berry garden with Blackberries, Tea Berries and Royal berries as well. Interestingly, while my desire for these different berries to prosper is identical, I can’t treat them all the same and expect them to be equally successful. Some need more support, others need to be trimmed down more often. Many, if left to their own devices, will become unruly, getting out of hand and requiring a hard pruning to bring them back into line. In some rare cases, this correction is quiet and calm but many berries have thorns that make requisite reforms painful and laborious.

As much as I desire my garden space to be equally productive I realize that, in spite of my best efforts, there are variations in my garden environments that may positively or negatively affect my berry performance. Some areas have a more richly developed soil or may have more exposure to the benefits of uncensored sunlight. My experience tells me I will need to fertilize the areas where the soil is not so rich and I will need to trim the trees that obscure the all-enriching sunlight. Now it isn’t my plan to fertilize and trim forever… why would I want to do that? Instead, I will work to amend the poor soil, enriching this environment so the plants living here can better thrive without assistance. Instead of constant trimming, those obstacles shielding the sun will need to be removed completely so the sunshine can reach my berries and give them the energy they need to succeed.

The knowledge I have to successfully manage a healthy garden didn’t just happen…it had to be developed. Most of what I now know I learned from others through thoughtful and collaborative communication. Through this process, it was necessary to open my mind to the possibility that someone else’s opinion may be of value and that I may gain from the appreciation of their perspective. To first be willing to listen so that I may be able to hear so that I could better understand…then (and only then) was I able to form my own opinion and make my way.

So much of what I do as a gardener isn’t so much about making things grow…that assumes that plants don’t want to or can’t grow themselves, which is ridiculous. A good gardener realizes that the goal to being successful is to remove all the obstacles that get in the way of a plant’s progress and to create an environment suited to healthy development. Sure, there have been plants in my garden that, regardless of my efforts, simply refuse to perform. Those failing plants get dug up and thrown over the hill to make room for a more productive plant. That’s why I am a farmer and not a politician!

I don’t want diversity in my garden…I need it! A healthy and wide variety of nutrient sources is far more enriching than any limited menu could possibly offer.  Besides, as much as I love potatoes, if that is all I ever ate I would be neither healthy nor happy.

I am making my garden sound like the perfect place but that is far from the truth. I am constantly fighting the unwelcomed and unappreciative weedy intruders that seek to take over and choke out my garden. Not all weeds are created equal. Many are fairly benign, others are more aggressive, leaving just a few trespassers of a cancerous nature. Regardless, it is my obligation to remain vigilant, closely monitoring all the comings and goings in order to defend my garden against potentially treacherous invaders and to protect my plants. 

You may have thought that the value of time spent in the garden was narrowly measured by simply the amount of work done in the time devoted to a task, but clearly (in my case anyway), that really isn’t all there is to it. 

What do you think…do you have any pruning you would like to see done? 

Maybe our country’s politics need to be more like our gardens and maybe our gardens are more like politics than we care to admit. 

Either way, providing a time for the mind to explore can be more fulfilling than the completion of any chore and, frankly, I really think we could all benefit from a healthful expansion of thought. 

Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!