Over forty years ago, members of a family in northern Scotland found themselves in a new living situation and with a need to feed themselves. Despite, or perhaps because of, a decided lack of experience, money, and basic garden niceties, they prepared as best they could the gritty turf that passed for soil at the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park.
Then they reaped. They reaped in spades. They became the recipients of amazing bounty from a little-bit-of-nothing patch of sand and gravel on a peninsula jutting into the North Sea. Year after year they put into the land; year after year the land gives back to them. The Findhorn garden story (go ahead, check out Findhorn.org) is an inspirational and magical one, an extraordinary combination of hard work and intimate communication with the natural world.
My new garden this season will be as much of an experiment for me as the first Findhorn garden was for those unrelenting Scots. I’ll keep you posted. The ground is rocky, the dirt is different, the altitude is higher, and the leaf canopy is impressive. I don’t know what, if anything, will do well here. Should I focus on herbs and forget the tomatoes? Where will the sunflowers be happy? Can I possibly coax an onion to adulthood? Radishes are hardy, but after a while, like zucchini, you can’t give them away. Maybe just put the whole thing into chives—they grow anywhere.
But what a learning experience it will be! Part of the lesson of Findhorn, of your garden, of my garden, is appreciation for the miracle of everything that grows and of our part in making that happen. Of course, the world is full of living things that get along just fine (better, in most cases) without any input from us. But when our actions, our care, our participation result in an increased richness of the soil, in the palpable pleasure of verdant rows, in the heaviness of stems dripping with fruit, well then, our incredulity may be justified. When we can leave a little chunk of the planet in better shape than it was before our involvement, that’s cause for celebration, isn’t it?
So plant! I’m going to. We can grow in long rows or short ones, in containers on the porch or on acres of loam—it’s our intent that matters. The garden will be what it will be—it is what it is—and we can help it be the best it can be by putting the best we can be into it.