“It’s not planting that takes all the work, it’s preparing the beds.”
That little note has been on a scrap of paper on my desk for a couple of months now. I read it and think, “Well, that sounds true, but is it really?”
Maintenance seems to be the most work: the more stuff you have, the more problems. Let’s define gardening not as a “stuff,” though, and more as a sort of meditative endeavor that extends as a concept into everyday life: work, relationships, love, personal growth. SO then, if tending a garden is like tending Life Stuff, is it true that preparing the beds is more work than doing the planting?
Take Work: ‘preparing the beds’ might be getting projects ready to launch, building your network, going to planning meetings, building relationships with colleagues, taking care of yourself in a way that allows you to present your best Work self, etc.; then ‘planting’ is really just selecting projects (i.e. plants). It’s in maintaining the projects that keeps things from going sideways. That’s the real work: filing things, moving things, building things, fixing things, paying bills, checking in with your team, correcting course, making sure the Ph and Nitrogen balances are good, the thing is getting enough water, singing to it, whatever.
It still holds that if you don’t prepare the Work beds correctly, things are gonna fall apart somewhere down the line. SO, beds, work, yes. Planting, work, yes. But Maintaining things…. let’s stay on that for a minute…
Take Relationships: I still hold that maintenance is the most work here. Preparing Beds might be considered choosing correctly, making sure you honor yourself in making good choices, taking care of yourself / setting standards and habits that you then wish to see extended in your personal network, that sort of thing. Planting, then, is making contact. Accepting invitations. Opening yourself to a new connection. It holds that if the beds have been prepared properly, you’re going to make good choices when planting time comes. This seed, not that seed. These flowers, not those. Extending the analogy further, some beds being prepared for certain types of relationships, some beds for other types.
But tending to those relationships – maintenance – is where the real work comes in.
I could go on like this. We both see where this is going.
The Beds are the Thing. Good beds, then good choices. Then maintenance. Planting things comes in third but is still important as a concept about making good choices. My yard was assembled by a gardener who prepared amazing beds, and carefully planned what would be planted in each of them. Then she acted out those plans and then maintained them. She made good on her plans and honored her choices by tending to them. BUT: Then By Owner bought her house, my house, and ignored all the plants, all the beds, all the projects and relationships that he’d purchased. He had no interest in gardening / maintenance. OR he expected all this Stuff to just take care of itself somehow. Two years later he sold the whole thing to me, and where fantastic beds had been prepared were now fantastic weeds. The difference between “plants” and “weeds” is that weeds are independent opportunists that take over resources; plants are little ideas that need tending to, re: cultivation. Without maintenance and oversight, good beds just become an opportunity for weeds.
SO then an edit: “The best laid beds of mice and men…” me thinks, which leads to a search for this:
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.
And the best laid plans for this post end in accidentally plowing up a Mousie’s nest, for which I apologize.