The Findhorn garden, as far as I have been able to tell, evolved gradually to become what it is today. It started with a few vegetable beds in a caravan park, next to a dump near the shore of the North Sea in Scotland. It was a long process of discovery and evolution, using guidance from nature and the spirit world to help with the important decisions about the shape and focus of the garden.
Perelandra, similarly, evolved over a period of years to become what it is today, but the shape it’s in now is more of an integral unit than the Findhorn garden, and the garden in its present location was carefully planned out before any digging had even begun. The Perelandra garden was also the product of close cooperation between the human gardener (Machaelle), and nature and the spirit world. Machaelle recommends planning out the garden prior to doing any work on it, and she also recommends using applied kinesiology as the means of getting information. Applied kinesiology is the use of muscle testing to get answers, and Machaelle has this down to a fairly precise science. And this is what she calls herself. A scientist. The focus of her garden is research, and the research being done is all about co-creative partnerships between humans and nature, and the results that can be accomplished with such partnerships.
My approach is perhaps somewhere between the approaches used in these two gardens. I have a much smaller space to work with than Findhorn, and the land that I have to work with has more limitations on its use than Perelandra. My garden is all contained within a semi-urban lot that is fifty by one hundred feet in size, with a house in the middle of it, and trees on two sides. There aren’t any places on the lot that have full sun all day long, and very few that have full sun for more than a few hours during the late fall, winter, and early spring. So where I put things has more to do with where there is enough light (or in the summer months, not too much light – this being the very hot, deep South) for each kind of plant.
So my approach is to be plugged into the garden and its guiding intelligences as my default mode while I am working in or planning the garden, and I take my cues from them as I work and plan. I let them guide me as I go about the business of the garden. Sometimes my husband has ideas about some of the garden configurations, and these also add to the overall layout of the garden. Even though he is not very involved in the garden overall, it wouldn’t be truly co-creative if he was excluded from all of the decision making, if he felt that he had something important to contribute.
The garden is only two and a half years old, and most of it has yet to be dug and planted. Each year so far has provided me with important lessons about how the co-creative approach works in this particular location. Each location has its own unique energy dynamics and needs, and so each location will require its own unique approach.
The Findhorn garden started out as a caravan park and a garbage dump. The Perelandra garden is on the site of a Civil War battlefield. The energies created by these circumstances needed to be healed, and this was done differently in each location. My own little garden is in a neighborhood that started out as slave quarters for a plantation in the deep South, and the history of this neighborhood is one of marginalization and neglect by the wider society, as well as quite a lot of abuse. For some number of years, the neighborhood was off the radar of the city of which it is now almost the center. For a long time, it was out in the country and the people grew their own food and raised their own livestock. And they hunted and fished in the woods and creeks that surround it. Over the years, the city’s boundary crept closer and closer to the edge of this neighborhood, but didn’t grow enough for the neighborhood to be incorporated. During that time, the people of the city and the city itself used the edges of the neighborhood as a dumping ground for all of their foul refuse.
Eventually, this neighborhood was incorporated into the city, and services came here and the city was not able to totally neglect it, although we still have to fight for many of the services that we get here. We still only have one road in and out of the neighborhood, and it has a railroad track crossing it at the neighborhood entrance. The far end of the neighborhood has been discovered by developers, so the idyllic and peaceful small town atmosphere that has characterized the neighborhood for decades is now giving way to some extent to a somewhat more suburban feel.
But we are surrounded by meandering creeks and a large cemetery, and so even though we are almost in the center of this small city, living in this neighborhood is still a lot like living in a small village out in the country. Most of the people here know each other or are related to one another. People look after one another here, and care about each other, to a far greater extent than I have experienced in any other urban or semi-urban environment.
Our house is not the first to have existed on this lot. I am aware of at least one prior dwelling that was torn down some number of decades ago. The lot sat empty while the trees and weeds took over for many years, and then about ten or fifteen years ago, our house was built. I have been finding the remains of the prior residence while digging the garden beds. I find bricks, cinder blocks, old iron hinges, bits of wire, rusty nails and horse shoes – even some old railroad spikes. And glass. Lots and lots and lots of glass.
When we first moved in here, I felt the presence of a very protective spirit who I felt was a sort of grandmother figure. She was guarding this property and she was very possessive about it and not particularly happy about our being here. I was very puzzled about that because I had some information about the people who owned this house before us, and there wasn’t any grandmother living here. When I found out that another residence had existed on this lot, things made a lot more sense. It took a little while to bring things here to the point that the grandmother spirit no longer was making her presence felt. I think she might still be around, but the people of the neighborhood have accepted us, and I think that has persuaded her to accept us as well. We were only the second white family to live in this neighborhood, and in her day, white people weren’t all that nice to people of African descent.
So energetically, I had my work cut out for me. There were good energies that were beneficial to be a part of, and also energies that needed healing. I think the garden has needed to shape up slowly so that the healing could take place in a way that wouldn’t be too jarring. That’s how it feels to me, anyway. A slow, gentle, healing that the area could get used to gradually.
As the garden grows and evolves, I can feel the difference in the energy here. It contains more and more light and love with each new garden season. I have welcomed life and nature into the garden, and showered its inhabitants with appreciation (except for the poison ivy, but I’m working on that).
Last year, bugs were eating a lot of the peppers and tomatoes. I didn’t do anything to kill them, and only sprayed the plants with a mixture of nutrients, hot pepper, and garlic (with a tiny amount of peppermint castile soap as a surfactant), to help the plants have enough vitality and strength to resist being severely damaged by the insects. This year, the insects have not been a big problem. The understanding I am getting about that is that the imbalance that has been created in this area through the use of poisons and other industrial chemicals, and through the approach of killing insects and “weeds” in order to bring things under control, is being cleared out, and before things can come into balance, the energies have to be corrected through application. It’s by not administering any of the deadly methods, even in the face of over-proliferation of “pests”, that the energies are brought into balance again, and once these energies are corrected, there is no longer a need to fight the insects. They will have their place in the garden, in balance with the needs of all of the rest of the garden life.
This garden season has its own problems and challenges, but I am learning from them as well. I won’t really know what they’re all about until this garden season progresses into the next one (our mild winters allow us to have year-round gardening in this part of the world), although, even now, I have some ideas about it. I have planted most of the fall garden – more tomatoes, more lettuce, more New Zealand spinach, more cucumbers, and more chard and beets. The Napa grape tomatoes are still going strong from the summer garden, as are the peppers and zucchini. The eggplants were in pretty bad shape not too long ago, but I did some first aid on them and it looks like they may be bouncing back. We’ll see.
I hope to get the herb garden dug this fall, and hopefully a bed on the other side of the house for next year’s cucumbers and squash, and also beans. I don’t know yet whether or not I will be planting a winter garden of collards, cabbage and other winter crops. I get impatient about these kinds of things, but the garden always pulls me back and tells me that everything is happening at the right time and for the right reasons. So that’s ok then.