Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Moving full time to the country was a huge step in simplifying my life. But, living in the country has taught me that going simple doesn’t mean things are going to be easy. One of the greatest teachers of this lesson is the garden.
This past Spring I was plucking out every new spout which popped up in my flower garden. One day my sister-in-law came by and while we were wandering around the flowers she noticed tiny spouts of Columbine. “Oh, and this is a Lupine.” She went on to identify more delightful flower spouts. With a sigh I regretted having pulled out every new spout I’d seen. She suggested that if I’m uncertain of the spout allow it to grow, it may be a welcome bloom.
In my efforts to keep the flower garden neat and tidy, safe and un-invaded I robbed it and myself of its gorgeous potential. That was a few months ago. Now in the midst of summer the flower bed is bursting with blooming color. While there are a few late bloomers of which I am aware of, there are however, a few of the unidentifiable growers also not in bloom.
Yesterday, I scooted around the flower and vegetable gardens to weed. While I didn’t know all of what I pulled out, I did know what I was pulling wasn’t where it belonged; they were going to do more damage than good. I also noticed how some weeds, such as goatheads, had really hidden themselves, wrapping and spreading around other plants, securing their place in the gardens. Unlike the pesky goadheads, there were a few growers and unknown visitors I allowed to remain in hopes they would be wonderful, welcome additions to the gardens.
 Sometime later, in the early evening, a friend stopped by. Knowing he was raised in the country, a true young cowboy, rancher, farmer, I knew he could identify these new garden residents. I pointed to the tall thin growers within the flower garden and asked him if he knew what they were. “I believe those are milkweeds,” he said.
The warning bells went off in my head. I haven’t lived in the country long but long enough to know what the neighbors, ranchers think of milkweed. I’ve heard how harmful milkweed can be to livestock. Even though I don’t have livestock except for the occasional escapee horse, I made my mind up they, the milkweed, would be up rooted in the morning.
Before heading out this morning to enforce the eviction, I decided to do a little research on milkweed. I discovered my two butterfly bush are also a type of milkweed. There are over 100 species of milkweed.  While milkweed is toxic, the Native Americans knew how to utilize the milkweed herb for medicinal purposes. The milkweed flowers provide needed nectar, not only for butterflies but honey bees as well. Milkweed leaves are a host for monarch larvae. By consuming the leaves it creates a toxicity within the butterfly’s wings which becomes a defense for the butterfly against its predators.
I have reconsidered the eviction, for now anyway. What will the neighbors think?
What possibilities would I have missed had I kept my mindset to pluck every spout which emerged in places I felt I needed to control, protect? I’d have barren spots within the flower garden of which I’d have gone to the nursery and purchased new occupants; all the while the occupants were there; some being the posterity from last year, others, weary travelers which had blown in and settled down. Some, like goatheads, are mean intruders who invade, crowd out, and produce thorns and slivers which wound and fester. Others become a safe, delightful welcoming place for humming birds, butterflies, honey bees and then together, become reliant on each other for growth, survival, and on occasion, teachers to humans like me.
From the book, Dirt Farmer Wisdom, Jojo Jensen writes, “We are interdependent just as the plants, birds, and bees must be to keep the garden blooming. All things are possible with an open heart dwelling in the garden of love. Just as the dirt farmer considers new flowers for her garden, you can overcome a barren, empty life by cultivating an open heart and mind.” Perfectly, simply, said.
On this, my 49th year journey, may I open my heart and mind to a deeper simplicity of life, fully aware that it may not always be easy. May I welcome tender new spouts and a knowing of when and what to pluck out. May I truly seek the wisdom to cultivate the gardens of my heart where dreams, desires, new possibilities can bloom, regardless of what the neighbors may say.


  1. Julia, I have been lucky enough to see the powerful effect that the garden has had upon your life and your writing. Each time you write i am in awe of the wisdom you share about life while wandering through the's wonderful. Please keep inspire me every time a new word of yours touches the paper (or screen LOL)

  2. this is such a beautiful realisation Julia! anyway weeds are just flowers growing in the "wrong" place... each of us has a part to play in the ecosystem of life right?!

  3. hear ye, hear ye notice has been given to allow heart to be cultivated to its fullest. i love this post. i have a beautiful dogwood tree bc of bird droppings.
    i remember my uncle going into the woods,picking different plants/seeds and bringing them home. he knew so much about nature and how to use what he found as did my grandmother but never really passed it on to the next generation.