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Insects will come.
Plants out-of-place will grow.
Desired plants won’t bloom on time.
Enjoy the experience.

There have been some summers when I was unable to give all the attention I would like to my garden, for one reason or another. It didn’t look the way I wanted.

One day, as I washed dishes at the kitchen sink, I was looking out the window at the backyard lamenting how little time and energy I had to nurture the garden. I felt disappointed in myself that I wasn’t spending time in nature, recharging my energy reserves amongst my spiritual sanctuary.

Then, it dawned on me, “look for the spaces”. I felt relief from my guilt. I could see spaces between flowers and pathways. Albeit a bit overgrown but still there all the same.

I could see that it indeed was a garden.

Flowers, veggies, and herbs were blooming and growing. It looked overgrown because perennials were spreading and doing what they do best – expanding.

I could see paths, raised beds, rock borders peeking through the lush garden. To me it was my garden. To others, perhaps an overgrown patch of plants.

To me it was my garden. To others, perhaps an overgrown patch of plants. “Oh well,” I thought, “I enjoy it.”

I was especially grateful this day, looking out the window with my wet hands in dishwater, many demands were happening at once, supper cooking on the stove, kids fighting over the tv, and cats constantly meowing for food. 

Enjoyment still exuded from the garden to my house – new colorful flowers;  monarch butterflies flitting about; squirrels scampering through the fence; and plants swaying in the breeze.

There are other things to enjoy besides a tidy, ship-shape patch of photosynthesizing material, from the anticipation of soon to open butterfly chrysalis, to the reassuring hum of pollinating bumblebees enjoying anise hyssop blossoms, to the soft glow of light pink peonies, sweet smelling milkweed blossoms, and tart tasting sorrel leaves.  

My definition of a successful garden changed. It can be many aspects such as pounds of produce collected, number of plant species, number of herbal remedy possibilities, and more qualitative measurements – joy, laughter, peace, relaxation, and wonder.

boy cutting plants in garden

The joy of watching my kids learn about herbs and gardening.


I learned this lesson from the garden, when I wasn’t even in the garden – wooden walls couldn’t keep the magic of growing things away. 

Now, I remind myself to look for the open spaces in the garden, those are proof I care and tend to my plants. Those gaps may be smaller than I want, but the distinct shapes of plant bundles are still there.  

I take the lessons I learn from plants and reflect them into my life. Where else can I look for the “open spaces” in a “messy’ house, a “busy” schedule, anywhere else in life that feels crowded with stuff, guilt, and mistakes? Those patches of “messy” and “busy” might be smaller than I think especially if I compare those to the patches of success. 

Article downloadable PDF (click here)


About the author

Erin LaFaive is an herbalist and Plant Priestess with Full Circle Herbals.

“I came about the name Full Circle Herbals because I like all aspects of herbs from growing, harvesting, using, preserving, teaching, and creating.

Some people like growing herbs, others would rather purchase herbs to make remedies and crafts. Some people like teaching about herbs more than growing them. I like all of it! From seed to soil, to body, mind, and spirit.

That’s what you’ll find  here ~ teaching, making, growing, seed saving . . . the Full Circle of herbs.

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