by germinatrix | October 26th, 2010
I strongly believe that gardening can save the world. One by one, we can all make changes in our gardens and in the gardens of our clients and friends and start a chain that can and will reverberate beyond our immediate spheres of influence. We don’t know where the impact of our small gestures might lead – so we have to commit ourselves to making those gestures with strength and conviction. Sounds grand, doesn’t it? But it is actually very simple, and what sounds like a scheme for world domination is actually a very personal thing – it starts every time someone discovers the magical, healing powers of gardening. For me, it was completely accidental – somehow, I instinctively turned to something that I knew nothing about (I’d never given the smallest thought to plants and gardening) out of a sense of self-preservation that, to this day, I can’t really explain.
Before I became a garden designer, I was an actor. I was ALWAYS an actor – since I was a teenager. I was the girl in highschool who won the acting awards, for college went to the special theatre school, I always got great parts – it all came fairly easily to me. But something was never totally “right”. Something about me loved what I did, but something just as strong rebelled against it – I was always a troublemaker, a theatre school version of Lindsay Lohan. But when I left school it was with an agent and into the life of an actor, working in film and tv. And I hated it. Every minute of it. Some people take to the strange world of Hollywood like ducks to water, but I took to it like a monkey in a cage. The money was great, and every job I got was a validation, but the actual work was strange and disjointed, and the thing I loved about theatre – the rehearsals, the discovery, the study of human dynamics – all that was gone. I began to get very depressed.
Soon, my husband and I bought a house, on a corner, with alot of lawn and a small rose garden. I continued to do my thing- auditioning, working, but it was robotic; I felt I had less and less to give. Then one day I was up for a HUGE part in a BIG series at the time. They loved me – I just had to audition one more time for the network. I did it – and they thought I was great, but there was just ONE little thing – could I come in one more time? The next day I walked into a room full of network execs and producers and the director and the casting agent, all smiling big supportive smiles – and I realized I had NOTHING. Nothing. I sat down and read like the sad robot I had become, disconnected and empty. The biggest moment of my career, and there was nothing I could do – I had no more to give. As I walked out, the wonderful casting director gave me a hug and said “Ivette, I am SO very sorry…”. I went home, called my agent, and quit acting.
I felt completely used up. Whatever it was that I had been giving to my work, nothing was ever being replenished. I was hollow; dull. I found no no joy in anything, nothing interested me. One day, I looked outside at the run down rose garden. I went outside and picked some flowers – they were weak, spindly plants; they didn’t look right – so I bought a book on roses. I put all of my energy into those roses. I read more, and realized that one of the reasons they were doing so poorly is that they were isolated; they needed friends. I added lavenders, nepetas, grasses – I dug and amended, I pruned and planted, I got so dirty and reveled in the sensual pleasure of the sights, smells, and textures of this new world I’d discovered. I couldn’t get enough! As my roses got new friends, so did I – all of us obsessed and thrilled to share our passion with each other. I began to play outside, like a child – out went the front lawn – in went phormiums, kangaroo paws, and almost 150 Papaver somniferum ‘Thundercloud’ (I was OBVIOUSLY working something out – who plants a field of OPIUM in their front yard?) With every new plant I put in, with every new area of the garden I played with, I became bright again – this garden work was nourishing my core, my soul. I wasn’t being depleted, I was being fed. The neurosis was gone, the fear, the uncertainty – vanished. Being in the garden is all creation and expectation; even when things don’t work there are reasons, solutions – so unlike the world I just left. Turning to the garden when things went wrong was the best instinct I ever had, and I think it isn’t being overly dramatic to say it might have very well saved my life. It DEFINITELY saved my sanity.
The therapeutic value of a garden can’t be overstated. Digging, smelling, touching, looking, and learning about the workings of the natural world is you connecting to something greater than yourself. When you garden, you interact with the elements in a primal way. In a very real sense, gardening is magic.
Pass on the magic, friends – what we do is special. Potentially life-altering. I know you can feel it, too.
XOXO Your Germinatrix
Now go read the posts of my friends and colleagues, along with extra special guest Naomi Sachs – uber Healing Garden Maker Extraordinaire!!!