Deep Clean

Sunday night I snuggled under the covers and went to sleep with the sound of steady rain on the roof. The sound was comforting, perhaps because I spent my childhood in Seattle and it’s a familiar sound (less so in semi-arid Denver), or perhaps because I had accomplished a garden project over the weekend and the rain was welcome in my garden.

This weekend I finished weeding my long-neglected cutting garden space at the back of my yard. This year it has been more of a theoretical “cutting garden” than an actual one, because it was so weed-infested that I only planted a small section of cosmos seeds. Once the poppies and iris were done blooming in the spring, the area was left to weeds and the cosmos had to grow taller than the weeds to show their beauty.

back garden weeds

I could mention many excuses for my lack of attention to weeds – work schedule, heat, travel – but the real reason is that I never decided it was a priority. Last spring I thought about creating a new garden space using pavers and building a new raised bed on our large, ugly, concrete driveway – a bed for a cutting garden. That project didn’t become a priority either. Then in late summer, I wondered why I would spend money on a new flower bed when I didn’t even keep up the ones I already had. Of course, a new raised bed with new soil (and no weed seeds, yet) was attractive, but not essential.

I determined that this fall I would clean the back garden – even though I won’t do anything with the space until spring. Cleaning out weeds now means that next spring there will be fewer weed seeds and roots in this garden space, and I might be able to have an actual cutting garden there. There were so many weeds among the section of poppies and iris that I had to dig everything out and replant the perennials to clean the soil.

iris replant

So the rain last night watered my replanted poppies and iris, and settled the soil in my back garden.

A side benefit is that I can actually enjoy the cosmos, since they aren’t in a weed-infested area from which I want to avert my eyes. And even bare dirt, with some random flagstone pavers (I’ll decide on the pattern I need next spring), looks so much better than weeds!

cosmos and pavers

Gardening is all about working ahead – digging weeds now for a better spring, planting perennials for blooms several seasons hence, planting shrubs and trees for many years in the future. There are some instant aspects to gardening – such as purchasing a pot of mums for the porch, but most of gardening is a lesson in delayed gratification and the long view.

clean back garden

The long view of life practiced in gardening is why the lessons I learn in nurturing my garden are so applicable to the nurturing of my soul. There is no insta-grow in the soul, just the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, lifelong practices of listening, learning, wondering, praying—listening again, learning again, wondering again, praying again, and on.

The soul practices I engage in now, even the ones that yield sore muscles but little apparent beauty, are the practices that can make a difference months or years hence. The verse that is buried in my heart comes forth when I am weak and weary, because I took the time to ponder it years prior.

Other activities often take priority over practices that yield slow growth in my soul, but the deep satisfaction of long-term growth is essential for my future self, even if my current self often finds many excuses for avoiding the essential deep digging that prepares the soil for future growth.

cosmos closeup


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