The Healing Gardener

Last week, I expounded on Healing gardens. The discussion moves a natural step further – the responsibility that we have towards our gardens.

Although man has been gardening from time immemorial, often, it has been done to the detriment of the land. With the focus being on benefiting humans, the impact on the environment has been rather easily neglected. To create gardens abundant with the exotic and rare, lush lawns, orchards heavy with fruit and potagers putting forth vegetables from distant shores, a high price was payed.

Meanwhile, large tracts of land have been given over to urban development. Gradually, our forests and prairies have shrunk. Combine the loss of natural vegetation, introduction of alien species, use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, indiscriminate use of water, liberal employment of gas driven machines and there we have our badly, wounded earth. Our bid for the impossibly perfect has only succeeded in exposing our own failures.

Dealing with the likes of powdery mildew that has decimated the impatiens, boxwood blight, Asian long horned beetle and so many others, one can be of the opinion that we have just alien pests to contend. But, in truth, our careless habits have also increased the populations of our own native pests. You see, when we reduce native plants, we also reduce the native ‘good’ bugs which keep the natural pests in check.

I will not go into more detail about all the negative actions and impacts. It is all known. As guardians of our land, we must move ahead with a resolve to make amends. It is not too late – this much we must believe. Otherwise, what is the point?

While we seek to be healed by gardens, we must first heal our gardens. Only then can we be better served. After all, what goes around comes around.

It is my fervent hope that we will each honor our covenant to nurture our gardens and green spaces to good, robust health. Here are a few guidelines:

Plant more native species. Banish all invasive alien specimens.
Adopt only sound, organic practices.
Use water judiciously. Collect and use rain water.
Support the presence of birds, butterflies, bees, bats, toads and other helpful critters. Grow plants that attract them. Provide ‘homes’ and water sources.
Compost all kitchen and garden waste. Use the compost instead of buying mulch or fertilizer.
Weed, prune, cut back and keep the garden nicely maintained.
Spend time daily in the garden. Absorb the good energy while giving it yours.

The growing season is yet to start in the garden but the time is ripe to get ourselves ready to do it right.

P.S.Save the date!:My garden will be open through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program on May 10, 2014. Mark your calenders and do make plans to visit!

My 'meadow' - replaces replaces a lawn and supports lots of bees, butterflies and toads.

My ‘meadow’ – replaces replaces a lawn and supports lots of bees, butterflies and toads.


Organically maintained espalier heavy with fruit.

Organically maintained espalier heavy with fruit.


The salad bar

The salad bar


Hungry mouths in the espalier

Hungry mouths in the espalier


A frequent visitor

A frequent visitor


A surprise visitor in the meadow

A surprise visitor in the meadow


(c) 2014 Shobha Vanchiswar

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One thought on “The Healing Gardener

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful piece. It is a good time to start with your suggestions. I have been striving to have an eco- friendly yard, but I did not think of some of your tips.

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