Subversive Growth

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Photo by Adobe Stock/lenafomichewa

As the heat of summer comes on and growth in the garden explodes, I think about how those little garden seeds riotously sprout, despite the lingering chill of winter. In my mind’s eye, I see tiny seedlings revolting, unwinding upward toward the sun, and downward into the earth, with absolute resolve. So many growing things spiral or unfurl: Peas grasp with curly tendrils, ferns perfectly spiral in coils of tender green, and even pesky weeds wind and bind to anything vertical. I’d like to emulate the dogged energy of these plants.

This year, I sowed a small pollinator garden near a huge patch of established irises. Few seeds germinated. I turned over additional dirt in the back to claim even more garden space for foodstuff. However, the weather got too warm too fast, so I planted more flowers instead. Even as I fret about water and weeds, I know any number of other things could foil or foster my master plan, from pests to dumb luck.

By engaging me in the process of bringing forth new life, gardening shows me how to nurture growth and share abundance. Gardening also has a unique way of revealing which of my many impulses are at work, causing me to question what really motivates me. How do I feel when a row fails? (I lost all of my basil last year due to mold, and I really missed my canned pesto this February.) What do I do with an overabundance of squash? Why did I grow that anyway? I watch which experiences I loop myself around and into, similarly to how I observe the way in which a particular weed grows. In each case, I wish to get to the root of my motivations. And the more curious I am, the more I learn how and why I’m connected to the kinds of experiences I’m having, both the frustrating and satisfying ones. Gardening really challenges my sense of control. As it turns out, plants are often just as particular as people, but perhaps more tenacious.

Share your best garden lessons by emailing me at Let me know what you chose to grow and why.

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.