In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
March, 2012
Regional Report

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Create a quiet place in your garden where you can celebrate life.

The Spirit of Spring

We all know that plants are living things. They sprout, they grow, they die. They are similar to us in that way. Is it because of this life link that we are drawn to the garden in times of joy or sorrow? Why are garden weddings so popular, when everybody knows it's going to thunder, hail, and rain on that very special day, no matter what time of year the wedding takes place. Why is it that memorial gardens are such comforting places to be after losing a loved one?

With spring officially here, it's time to welcome and cherish new life. I believe that the spirit of the earth is alive and well in a garden. The fact that we tend and love our plants with a devotion shared with other living creatures indicates to me that there is indeed a "force" behind the life of a green plant. Think of the bristlecone pines that have survived for thousands of years.

The Joy of Living
Gardening is more than simply growing food in order to live. It's the joy and pleasure of nurturing something and watching it grow. If you have ever planted from seed you know exactly what I mean. Watching the miracle of life taking place in front of your eyes is amazing. You plant the tiny seed, anticipate the germination, and once that occurs, do everything in your power to keep the "babies" alive and thriving. Fans, heat, light, and moisture, not to mention loving hands, help the tiny seedlings reach their full potential.

Celebrate Life
What I propose is to create a space in your garden where the spirit of the earth may reside and feel welcome. My grandmother, although not Catholic, had a small shrine set up in a quiet corner of her garden for St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. She scattered wild bird seed around the base of the statue as an invitation, creating a source of community and nourishment. Although only a little girl, I remember watching the soft gray doves scratching in the rich soil beneath St. Francis in search of an easy meal. Their cheerfully comforting cooing sounds enriched the environment with yet another element.

Thai people frequently place a special "Spirit House" in their gardens. Offerings of food and flowers are made to the spirits that choose to reside there. The Spirit Houses are beautifully constructed and decorated and it is believed that happy spirits bring good luck.

If you feel uncomfortable creating a home for wandering spirits, you might instead consider adding a water feature to your garden. Water invites birds, butterflies, and other creatures in search of rest and refreshment to linger. A simple bird bath or bubbling, self contained fountain will add the essential element of life to your garden. Some of these new, self-contained fountains are solar powered so you don't even need to plug them into a power source.

Whatever you decide, do take a moment to celebrate the return of Spring and more importantly, life. As the the old song says, "Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think".

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