How Does Your Garden Grow?
“In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold.” – The Hidden Words
We lived in an old, dusty and crumbling villa in Wazir Akbar Khan in Kabul, Afghanistan several years ago. Enclosed behind four walls with a rusty barbed wire snaking tiredly above, our home looked bland and modest from the outside.
But hidden away from the rest of the world, veiled from prying eyes, there lay a treasure ensconced within those four white-washed walls.
Especially resplendent in May, crossing the threshold of those walls and entering into the inner sanctuary of our home, was to step into a world filled with perfumed roses. Colours so dazzling as to almost make the garden sparkle under the Afghan sun.
It was our very own secret garden.
It was our little patch of paradise in Kabul where brown and grey dust covered the entire landscape. It was our calm solace from the scorching heat and clamour of the city. It was where birds came to sing. Where white and yellow butterflies came to flutter.
I spent much time learning about the importance of pruning the thirty rose bushes we had in our garden. I found out the best season to start cutting back the grape vines. I was fiercely protective of our new seedlings and watched them with vigilance. Together with our gardener Shapoor, we planted clusters of sunflowers, corn, mint, coriander and spinach. It was a new found joy to simply watch life grow.
What I learnt most about gardening was that to have a beautiful garden takes work. A daily and dutiful commitment. The garden is only as graceful as the hands that tend to it. The harvest only as bountiful as the preparation put in long before the first shoot appears.
In fact, I discovered that most of the hard work of gardening seems to take place while the ground was still barren.
Since moving back to Finland, I have sorely missed having a garden. Contrary to popular belief and largely due to the photos I post on the blog, I do not live on a farm or in a rustic country home here in Helsinki.
(But, oh my, to have a patch of land to call my own…To be able to potter about endlessly and squish my toes in dirt! That would be a dream come true!)
In actual fact, I live in a rather modernistic brick and glass apartment out in the suburbs. And the only gardening I do these days is to tend to the little pots of herbs on my kitchen counter that come right off the shelves from the supermarket.
But, there is a secret garden that I go to often.
The hidden garden of the heart.
The hidden life that is in each of us. That secret place that beckons us during our quietest moments. That sacred place which is so easy to ignore and neglect simply because we so often only pay attention to the obvious, and the external, and that which is easy to understand. Because we are so often and so easily taken up by appearances.
Because sometimes cultivating an image just seems easier than cultivating a heart.
So, when I am battered by thoughts of war or overwhelmed by a barrage of bitterness, I go back to the quote from the Hidden Words above. I go back to the garden of my heart to take a peek at what sort of seeds I have been planting there the whole time.
And I realise with fresh clarity each time, that everything that is not of love has no valid place to grow in my heart.
And so that’s where I begin. Right at the heart of it. That’s where the life and times of each of us begin. Long before the buds appear. Way before the birds and the butterflies come to visit. While the land yet looks barren.
One little patch of dirt at a time.
One true word at a time.
One right thought.
One single truth.
One seed at a time.
Making sure to protect that little seedling from choking weeds, callous marauders and destructive pestilence. Making sure that I make time to pay attention and be vigilant.
And so, I may not have that huge, rambling garden to potter about (yet!) or squish my toes in some good ol’ bit of dirt, but I sure do have a garden within me that always needs some good ol’ tending to.
To secret gardens. To beautiful hearts.
Ah! so inspiring to read you again!!! btw I’m a really bad gardener, I struggle to keep the plants at my apartment alive…I hope I can manage better with the garden of my heart 🙂 ❤
Taking a deep long look and working on the garden of our hearts must surely be one of the most difficult things to do. But oh how necessary. For our own sakes and for the sake of others! Thank you so much my dear Rosa for writing. Good luck with those apartment plants 😀 Love ya x
So wonderful to have you back again. The only gardening we can do is with drought resistant plants, because of the severe water shortage here. But by recycling our gray water, they are doing well, and are spreading well. Thanks for the inspiration.
This novice gardener here learnt something new about gray water from you today Barney! Thank you. Your garden sounds splendid! Wishing you and yours a wonderful weekend! Sharon
What a beautiful garden you had and still have in your memories. But, yes, if we don’t work on the garden in our heart our other gardens will suffer.
After reading about your Baladi rose, I know you would understand memories of gardens. And especially of the gardens of our hearts. Isn’t it exactly true that we sow what we reap? The thought just came that it applies to what we sow in our own gardens as well. Thank you G for visiting. I have come to cherish our weekly exchanges very much. xx
Indeed it does. 🙂
Beautiful photos, words and encouragement to keep planting love in our hearts and world. Thank you Sharon for sharing your beauty with us. I too love gardening and tending to both my inner and outer gardens. XD
To many more seeds of love, planted in each heart and spreading around the world.
I thought of you and your garden as I wrote this! I can see from your latest posts that you have made all things beautiful grow. Ditto your wishes. Ditto your mission Brad.
Thank you Sharon. You might give me too much credit for my skills at both types of gardening. 🙂 But if I inspire you, then I am grateful. cyber hugs!
I am so happy to see your posts again. This, of course, does not disappoint. We are all thinking of gardens this time of year. I am spending time in mine, planting, pruning, weeding – always in joy and gratitude for what my garden gives me. You are so right about our inner gardens. Thank you for your words of wisdom. And I will carry you with me as I crumble the earth to plant the seeds as the birds bathe in the fountain and flit from tree to tree.
I think you have finally answered for me the way to having joy and finding beauty in every circumstance, thanks sharing for this ! 🙂
Beautiful post Sharon… ❤
So beautiful, so true, Sharon…thank you for this gentle, profound reminder to examine our hearts, be still, and to notice how we flee and cling to distractions instead of calmly entering our center and straightening the paths, weeding the gardens, and readying the soil for the strong and beautiful blooms we can create…I needed this today, and I needed your graceful, loving story-telling and the illustrations provided by your incredible photography. Thank you, and gentle peace.
I have come to realise that our writings and our thoughts that go out into the world doubly affirm and expand us when they find a home in those who understand. Thank you for always finding the root. The core. The epicentre of my message. And bringing it home. Thank you for getting me, Kitty. To planting roses and love. And all things beautiful. x
Thank you for sharing glimpses of both of your beautiful secret gardens, Sharon.
Dear Russ, your generous spirit nurtures my heart. Thank you. Sharon
Beautifully written. I return again and again to the wilderness for much the same reason. The wilder my ‘garden’ is the happier I am. –Curt
Nothing beats the untouched beauty of the wilderness and the solace we might find therein! You have a mighty garden indeed Curt! Sharon
Mighty indeed, Sharon. 🙂 –Curt
This deeply touched me! Yes, the garden of the inner heart.
Beautifully written Sharon and with a great deal of deep thoughtful meaning! I wish you many happy hours of inner gardening!, Some day, very soon, with all your tending and resowing, there won’t be any dark corners left, may it sparkle even brighter and more colourful than your secret garden in Kabul ! 🙂
Thank you from my heart Caren! I gather and draw all your well-wishes close to me. With warm thanks and gratitude from the novice gardener. Sharon
Wonderfully and gently said! Thanks……
Dearest B, thank you so much for taking time to read this. And thank you even more for taking the time to drop by and leave me this note. I am so, so glad to hear that you are feeling much better today! Big hug my girl! xx Sharon
Well written! The secret garden of the heart. 🙂
Thank you most kindly Lavinia! Sharon
Your words are as lovely as your photographs. I love this.
I am sad for what is happening in your home country
Truly beautiful – the hidden garden in the heart. To think of what can grow within. A wonderful post.
A very powerful thought indeed Emily when we give a moment to see how vast our hearts can contain. So very good to be connected with you after this break! Hugs, Sharon
Wonderful to see you again, and indeed life continues, whether we’re on the train on not. 🙂
The garden in your heart is of the most beautiful kind, Sharon! And you are so right in saying that anything that’s not of love, should not grow in our secret garden. I try to honor the same gardening principle. Thank you for this wonderful post and the fragrant roses.
Thank you for such a nurturing message Tiny! You are a kind blessing to me. Sharon
How uncanny, but not at all! I have been thinking a lot recently about the power cultivating oneself as a garden. How your words ring so true about the hard work that entails.
How very wonderful when our deepest thoughts synchronise with another! I keep coming back to the idea of planting nothing but the rose of love in the garden of my heart when it sometimes get to be a battlefield 😀 What a cleansing thought and a blessed relief to clear and root out that which has no place in our sacred parts. Blessings to you my dear Anne! Sharon
What a beautiful post, thank you for sharing. It seems like the secret garden is within your soul and keeps you nurtured in your wonderful spirit.
So grateful for your warm feedback Cornelia. Thank you. Sharon
30 rose bushes and your own oasis – I would loved to have seen it!
Oh I wish you could have! It’s one of those times when I feel my photos couldn’t really capture the magnificence of it all! x
Beautiful writing, thoughts and photos! (PS. I wish I had a garden here in Helsinki, too!)
Thank you Lumi! Maybe we should move to Vantaa where the price of houses isn’t off the roof! 😀 Oh but I do so heart Helsinki. Apartment living it is then. And kitchen sink plants. Good night and have a lovely weekend! xx
You too! 🙂
I couldn’t help but have a literal take on this post, my garden outside screaming in the background! We don’t have great soil in our yard, so I have been in the last few years turning over the garden to local plants.
Haha! Sometimes we just got to take care of the things that are screaming the loudest first Amy! And the rest will take care of itself. Keep us posted on your garden! 😀 X Sharon
Ah, what a pleasure to spend some time in a rose garden…
Hello Shimon, an absolute pleasure to have you here. I do believe I saw some of the most exquisite rose gardens when I was in the Middle East. With warmest wishes to you and yours, Sharon
Great analogy and a very well written post! Thank you for this!.
Indeed, we need to tend to that inner garden! If we don’t keep our eyes on it, and are running about like we all so often do, we can turn to it and find a tangle of vines choking our dreams, and then there’s quite a bit of pruning back to do! I love your analogy – speaking for myself, I often don’t spend as much time as I ought in that lovely secret garden, but when I do and all is well … the shade and dappled sunlight, the paths, the colors … we so create our own world, do we not?
Jeanne, Jeanne, Jeanne! I’m catching up on my writing and enjoying it wildly – even if it’s terribly overdue. So good to hear from you and for all the beautiful messages you have left me during my one year sabbatical from blogging. I think you understand the silence as well as the words just as much. I am learning to be a better gardener and to delight in that little secret garden. Love from indigo skies by night in Helsinki. Sharon x
You’re posts are absolutely beautiful. I am an aspiring writing of fifteen years old and I am learning A LOT from your posts. So, thank you. For sharing your wisdom, your talent and your beautiful words. Have a really good day! 😊
15 years old is a very special and powerful time indeed! In fact I sometimes think I am still 15 😀 A lot of what I had decided to become later in life, I look back and realised I had decided in my heart at 15. I love that you are an aspiring writer. Nurture that and enjoy the gift of writing. Use it wisely to bring joy and nourishment to hearts. Thank you so much for writing! Keep in touch. Keep me posted! xo Sharon
Wow, thank you so much for the support, Sharon! It really means a lot to me. More often than not, I don’t feel that confident about my writing. I always worry about what others will think and whether my writing is good or not. Though I know I write to express my thoughts and feelings, I feel so…obliged to write something that others will approve. But regardless, I try to write to spread goodness to others. Hopefully, my efforts will bear fruit and I can make this world happier, little by little. I aspire to be a writer because I know that, deep in my heart, it’s how I can contribute to the community, to the world. I know for sure that there is nothing else I feel more passionate about than writing, aside from my love for reading and learning. I will enjoy this gift of writing, and I will not let you down, nor any of the other writers I admire, nor my father, teachers and friends who have all motivated me to work harder and keep improving. Thank you truly for your wonderful words and advice! Love, Raffy. 😊☺️😊
Beautiful garden 🙂 🙂