Three Lessons from Gardening {Book Club}

We had to talk about gardens and gardening at some point, right?! This is, after all, The Secret Garden.

Where to even start with gardens? I am smitten with The Garden of Eden and the language of Eden. I even blogged 31 Reminders from Eden.  I wasn’t very interested in or taken with gardens until I moved to China.

And was removed for from most of nature.

I recall realizing I hadn’t heard a bird in months. MONTHS. There were no birds (though plenty of mice and rats) and at that time, most of the flowers came out around holiday times in flower pots around campus. There were two main parks in the city I lived in. One had lots of bamboo and concrete stools with no back support and the other park had lots of people (it was, not surprising, People’s Park) and once a year hosted the most amazing Mum Festival. Who knew mums could be so large and artsy?!

Oh there were trees around too. Funny how I forgot them. But really, I was in a large developing city that hadn’t yet had the breathing space in her development to create, well, breathing space.

For the first time in my life I began to crave nature. Blue skies, flowers, trees, birds, gardens, hiking like I was used to in the U.S. (not 5,000 stairs cut into a mountain complete with the opportunity to have my picture taken with a rabid monkey).

It all began in a garden. Isn’t that good news for our souls? And Revelation lets us know there will be gardens in heaven.  That’s lesson number one: Gardens are good for the soul.

The Secret Garden taught me to notice. I remember going outside and looking at the earth, like Mary, to see if I too, could see things coming up or buds forming. Gardening encouraged me to notice, to remember people and places change and to look for change. That’s lesson number two.

The third lesson came as an adult when I would work in my parents garden in the summer. This lesson’s unofficial name is “the lesson of the mint.” This is the beautiful aspen box in their back yard.

Aspen Box

When I was a child, Mom planted wonderful smelling mint in the far corner. Fast forward a couple of decades and me “taming the beast of the aspen box” (aka, weeding). That mint had worked its way all over the box! I don’t know the technical term, but they have the kind of roots that are connected, and if they are not stopped will just keep going. I’d be pulling up one mint plant and find myself chasing down the roots in this direction and that.

The lesson of the mint is several fold. It starts with the reminder there is much more going on under the surface! But it also reminded me supposedly unrelated things may be more connected than I realize. Look for connections. Finally, that seemed harmless when it was small, may grow and take over. Ignoring it and hoping it will go away, is a fool’s game. Deal with things while they are small. Easier than dealing with them later when you have to disrupt much of the “garden of life.”

I’d love to see picture of nature from your neck of the woods. Do you like gardens or gardening?  Anybody else hate weeding as a kid? What other lessons has gardening taught you?

I took this picture over the wall of a garden because it made me think of The Secret Garden.

The not so secret Garden

I wish my hand looked more like a model’s and less like a Gollum puppet clutching the wall, but alas. Shame storm be gone! Funny story, a lady walked up behind me and told me I could go in the door to the right =). She thought I was a bit nuts taking a photo for a book club. Oh well, we’re all a bit nuts!

Upload a photo of plants, flowers, or gardens in your neck of the woods!



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Photo Credit: Karen Huber via Flickr


  1. Kimberly Todd June 16, 2014

    We discovered a neighbor’s garden this morning.

    1. Amy Young June 18, 2014

      There is something so precious about small children squatting down to notice something. There is an element of wonder I could use more of :)! Thanks Kim!!

  2. Rachel June 16, 2014

    Okay, so this was Christmastime when the wild poinsettias were in bloom, but how beautiful is Mexico?!

    1. Amy Young June 18, 2014

      So beautiful!!! This is a picture to share any time of year :)!!

  3. Mary Gemmill June 17, 2014

    Flax features in my New Zealand garden in a number of colours and sizes

    1. Amy Young June 18, 2014

      This is calming to the soul. What a beautiful, wonderful world God has made!

  4. Beth June 17, 2014

    EVERY Spring I am AMAZED at how the roses in our city burst through the dry, seemingly lifeless dirt, and display their beauty with such boldness, as if to say, “See! I was here all along … just waiting!”

    1. Amy Young June 18, 2014

      Beth I love the truth of your comment — and this is one of the parts about gardening I like too. What may look dead and dormant isn’t!

  5. Kristi June 17, 2014

    Spring 2014, Beijing, China. Gotta love city parks!

  6. Ann van Wijgerden June 17, 2014

    It was like being in the eye of the storm and in a desert oasis – both at the same time: in the midst stressed-filled days for our NGO, a friend from church gave our 20 staff 3 fun&rest-filled days at her lovely tropical garden resort – totally free of charge! 🙂

  7. Caitriana June 17, 2014

    One of the things I love about gardens is the combination of man’s art with God’s. And over the last few years, I’ve been discovering the beauty of that combination in the particular soil of the culture I’m now in – love the intricacy and hidden-ness of Chinese gardens, the reflections and corners and round windows, the meandering paths and rustling bamboo, the fish and the delicately balanced ‘mountains’.


      1. Amy Young June 18, 2014

        Spectacular! And I like the point you teased out … the combo of God and Human working together. Us, being invited into the work. Thanks for reminding us of that aspect!

  8. Catherine June 17, 2014

    I live in a city that Lonely Planet once described as the ugliest in China, but they obviously didn’t visit this amazing rose garden in spring! Unlike rainy Yorkshire where plants will grow anywhere given a patch of ground, in dry places like this gardens need dedicated people to be coax and care for and love them in order to become beautiful. No secret gardens here!

    1. Amy Young June 18, 2014

      What does Lonely Planet know :)?! When resonates with me as I read your comment is the truth that gardening is going to be so profoundly influenced by environment (there are such deep life lessons in that truth, isn’t there!)

  9. Catherine June 17, 2014

    I live in a city that Lonely Planet once described as the ugliest in China, but they obviously didn’t visit this amazing rose garden in spring! Unlike rainy Yorkshire where plants will grow anywhere given a patch of ground, in dry places like this gardens need dedicated people to coax them and care for them and love them in order for the plants to grow and to become beautiful. No secret gardens here!

  10. Catherine June 17, 2014

    Sorry struggling with the technology a bit…

  11. Leigha June 17, 2014

    I’m new to this community, and am late to the game for this particular book. But I’ll gladly share an image from this week. Together with my 3 little ones we transplanted a bunch of these colorful plants that were growing like weeds from random empty lots into our fledgling, small garden here in rural Sumatra. We are quite lucky to have “weeds” like these.

    1. Kimberly Todd June 18, 2014

      Wow, that’s a really beautiful image. I made it my new desktop picture. Hope that’s okay; I’ll give you and Sumatra credit if anyone asks. =) And welcome to VA, Leigha.

    2. Amy Young June 18, 2014

      I agree with Kim! Beautiful. And I love this way of re-purposing :). Makes me want to look around and see where else The Enemy wants me to only see weeds/annoyances. But the reality is that seen from a different angle … something beautiful! And welcome to VA!!

      1. Leigha June 21, 2014

        Thank you both. I’m humbled Kimberly by the compliment. I like your comment, Amy, especially as I’ve been dealing with some unexpected trials these last few weeks but I can see ways to grow from it. That would be beautiful, indeed.

  12. Sarah June 17, 2014

    “All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so” – Joseph Joubert

    1. Sarah June 17, 2014

      Should have been a photo with that – will try again.

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