Le Monde VĂ©gĂ©tal and the Green Embrace

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Pardon my French, but it’s simply the way things have to be for me nowadays. As I enter into a new phase of life, one post-illness (aka in remission), post-marriage as I knew it, and during which I must pick and choose what really matters to me now, and ever-will-be it seems, I have to explore things a bit more, things from my past and my present. From my past, I will always embrace and hold near and dear to my heart a love of language, culture, and the natural world around me. This is now being roughly sutured with my love of gardening since the gap between the two is the painful part that’s hurt me the most, making my marriage into something it never should have been in the first place, and causing me great distress. I have to suture these things to help the healing.
My language replacement during the rough years was Botanical Latin, with its many linguistic textures and tones. Yes, my pronunciation in this green world is terrible, but I’ve been told that’s not uncommon by multilingual friends—especially in my situation with a memory that was often on the fritz. As long as I can see the name in my head, and spell it, I seem to be able to survive, and by that, I mean I can communicate. Speaking and being heard means the world to anyone who feels cut off from the rest of the society by the experience of illness. The isolation you feel is really quite incredible and it is more powerful than even I knew while in the midst of it. It changes you.
So with all of this in mind, as I sit here eating leftover Cadbury Mini Eggs from Easter, I will get to the point of my post.
Last week I participated in a little informal nursery tour with some plant friends. For them, it’s become an annual little get-together before the craziness of the Hardy Plant Society Spring Sale. I was not sure how I’d feel about le monde vĂ©gĂ©tal since my life is still very much up in the air, and sometimes I do want to sell the house and garden, but I gave it my all anyway, and it was worth the effort.
Xera Plants
Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’. 
Garrya topiary.
Ercilla volubile.
Primula auricula ‘Dijon Blush’.
Potting gurney.
Moss garden.
McMenamins: Kennedy School Garden Tour
Cistus Design Nursery
Aristolochia californica (red form).
Aristolochia californica (green or yellow form).
Loree aka Danger Garden (blogger friend) with an Agave—shocking!
Sean Hogan’s feet, his dog, my feet, and the feet of one of our green friends on our little tour but I am not sure who they belong to still. 
I think this is a Podophyllum. 
Overall, the tours went very well, and I had a great time meeting new people.
Adding to the excitement that day was the fact that just the day before, I’d sold the chair I’d been sitting immobile in for years, and it left this funny blank spot in the living room. Having space now to freely move around is making me wonder about all the space I’d filled in while I was still ill. While looking at plants, I started to think about throwing so many old plants out so that I could finally create a more clear design. Things seemed open and possible now, where they simply didn’t before this.

Buying a new iPhone has opened up more photography opportunities too, and I am seeing the natural world in all of its spacious glory. Editing and cleaning things out both internally and externally is opening up my world, but it is such a slow process. I feel like I can breathe now though, both in my own world, as well as out in the world I share with all of you.

Cherry trees in bloom on Mt. Tabor.

I think I can say now that Sean Hogan was correct weeks ago when he told me to accept and be embraced by the green world. It’s just the medicine I needed for my transitional malady, and if ever you need to take this treatment too, I recommend it.

10 Reasons Why I Garden Therapeutically

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1) Creative Outlet: I am a creative person, but I am not creative. This is what I used to think, but I am beginning to change my mind. Gardening has been the activity that has helped me to better understand this and it has helped me haul my obstinate mind and kicking spirit over this hurdle.

2) Relaxation: I know there are folks out there who consider a week by the pool relaxing—and I am sure that works for some of you—but I have found that kind of relaxation dull. Gardening is my form of moving meditation.
3) Sharing: Gardeners are wonderful givers. They always have plant divisions on hand for others and they are always open to sharing their knowledge with gardening neophytes.
4) Connections: Through plants I am connected to both my past and my future. One of my white lilacs is from a cutting of a lilac once grown by my great-great-grandmother in Baker City, Oregon. Additionally, seeds from around the world have allowed me to travel to places I would never have been able to experience otherwise.
5) Curiosity: Not every gardener really gets into the fine details, but for me, our garden is a laboratory where I perform plant experiments. Collecting seeds that I then germinate is what makes gardening even more rewarding. I am simply in awe of seeds and the potential they hold.
6) Love of Nature: Whenever you’re unable to camp or hike, you always have your garden. Bringing birds to it, and providing room for all of the other little creatures is the least we can do to give back. When I need a quiet sanctuary, I go to my garden.
7) Preserve Dignity: Until you have to tell someone you are unable to work due to a disease, and that you are unable to have children, you may not understand how painful this encounter can be. My garden helps to preserve that last scrap of dignity in that it is a way for me to contribute something. In time I have discovered it is the best answer too when I am asked what I do for a living. I make and care for living things.

8) Sense of Perspective: Things are steady and the seasons dictate the rhythm of time. I hum whatever tune is needed and I can be inconsistent as the days pass. Nothing is lost, and nothing is truly gained. Every day is different and no plant is ever the same.

9) Sense of Pride: Yes, I do garden to grow things but I will not take part in any kind of foodie garden fad. I am an Italian-American and that means you grow your own food. I am also a descendant of pioneers, and in our family, if you couldn’t grow food, and save seed, you’d die in the wilderness. Better to be prepared, to grow well, providing for your family and sharing your knowledge with those who may need your help.

10) To Provide Relief for Grief and Loss: My words cannot yet fully describe the feeling of losing the sense of yourself once the process and experience of disease begins. Mourning the loss of what life was like before is something that never fully goes away. I can be the cloud on a sunny day in my garden, and I can pour my heart out while toiling with my hands. Best of all, I learn from the garden. My garden has taught me how to renew myself daily, weekly, annually, and like it, I continue to grow, and shed, and change.