The Garden as a Metaphor for Life

The Garden as a Metaphor for Life

In many ways, the garden is a great teacher of life. This is my specialty. I know a fair bit about a lot in the garden, most of it practical, but my great fascination is with the metaphysical aspect, that forever-unfolding energy of life expressing in the garden. For me, a garden is a place to connect with Nature, life, and living – this is my specialty.

Take pruning roses as a good example of life and living. The gardener knows that we have to prune modern roses. We mainly prune them in the winter when flowering is finished growth is at a standstill, the leaves have dropped; this is Nature’s perfect timing.

Pruning Roses with Care and with Pleasure

I remember in the early 1990’s, Treenie and I were in Western Oz. We were taking an afternoon stroll along a country road when we came to a house with a fairly big, unkempt front garden. An elderly woman was sitting on a step near some huge hybrid tea roses, looking very pale and distressed. We walked over to her, learning that she had just recently come out of the hospital after suffering a heart attack. Now, she was attempting to prune her large unkempt roses!

A single glance told me that they had not been pruned for several years. They were a tangled, thorny, overgrown mess, with long, spindly branches poking out all over the place. I asked her if I could help.

“Oh dear, no,” she replied, “They have to be carefully pruned.”

I pretended to look offended. “It’s not fair,” I said. “One of my great joys is to prune roses, and I’m very good at it. Now, here I am with all these roses that need pruning, and you won’t let me help.”

The frail lady smiled in surprise. “Well, when you put it like that, I’ll be very grateful for your help.”

Pruning Roses: Getting Rid of Excess Branches

The Garden as a Metaphor for LifeThere were about fifteen very overgrown roses, so I got straight into them. “You can throw all the cuttings in a heap. My son will clear them away,” she said. Keeping my thoughts to myself, I reflected that he had certainly not put himself out to help her in the garden.

With just a pair of old hand secateurs, it took me quite a while. I needed a pair of the large-jawed long-handled ones. Meanwhile Treenie got the trembling woman to sit comfortably and relax. She was exhausted just looking at the roses. I wondered at one stage if the secateurs would manage the job, but I persisted, and the roses got their pruning.

None of those roses resisted their pruning. When the many straggly growths are removed, it makes way for fewer, stronger growth spurs. As old, weakened branches are cut away, new strong ones will take their place. As light and air gets into the center of the plant, it will be more able to resist fungal diseases. On an energetic level you could feel the roses taking a deep, grateful breath of fresh air. You could feel the relief in the roses, the metaphysical knowing that new growth was now possible, no longer more of the same.

Pruning People: Getting Rid of Excess Baggage

We are like this. Over a period of years we develop concepts and beliefs that are negative to our growth, and they need to be regularly pruned away. Unlike the rose bush, we resist. My life is now much more about pruning people than roses, but over and over I see the parallel. People resist strenuously when you attempt to relieve them of the weight of old, non-productive growth. People cling to their outmoded beliefs with all the tenacity of an addict.

Just as the roses need pruning in the stillness of winter, so people need to release old concepts and stagnant beliefs when the weight of these burdens brings their inner growth to a standstill. Just as a rose bush will become compressed and distorted with the weight of gnarled old branches, so people become depressed with the unproductive weight of negative thinking, and their life becomes stressed with anxiety. Just as the weakened rose becomes susceptible to disease, so, too, do people.

Learning to Bend with the Challenges of Life and Let Go

If you watch a tree in a strong wind or storm, you will see the branches bending, whipping back and forth, while leaves are blown away. The tree does not resist the storm. The tree does not say, “Sorry, I can’t deal with a storm today. I’m too busy.” But we do.

When the winds of change blow in our lives we hang onto the old; we do not easily release the old leaves of habit. And when a fierce storm hits our lives, we become deeply stressed, simply because we fail to see that life is saying “Let go.” We are much more attached to ‘more of the same’ than a tree is attached to its branches.

Just as weather-based storms prune the tree of growth that is beyond its ability to support and maintain, so stress-based storms attempt to relieve us of our burdens, offering us a chance to release some of our fixations and attachments.

subtitles by InnerSelf

©2011. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. 

Article Source:

Conscious Gardening: Practical and Metaphysical Expert Advice to Grow Your Garden Organically by Michael J. Roads.Conscious Gardening: Practical and Metaphysical Expert Advice to Grow Your Garden Organically
by Michael J. Roads.

Click here for more Info and/or to Order this book.

About the Author

Michael J. Roads, author of Conscious GardeningMichael J. Roads is a farmer, a gardener, and the author of several gardening and metaphysical books, including Getting There, The Magic Formula, and Talking with Nature. In 1977, he started a community with a group of like-minded people, and he began conducting retreats and seminars in 1990. Visit Michael either in the US at  or in Australia at

More Articles By Michael J. Roads

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