Giving Gratitude to the Garden

By Linda Wiggen Kraft

In this season of gratitude giving, being grateful “to” is different than grateful “for”. The “to” implies giving directly back. Giving back is acknowledgement, attention, thanks and love.

Our gardens, and all gardens, deserve our gratitude and thanks. They bring us food and nourishment for bodies and souls. Giving thanks to our gardens has many layers. It starts with the overall garden itself: sky, sun, moon, air, earth, rocks, plants, birds, insects, animals that live within it, soil, worms, microorganisms and more.

Each individual part of a garden can be the recipient of our gratitude also. The beautiful rose that radiates a perfect color and fragrance, the sweet tasting apple that starts from a spring flower, the cool air under the shade of the magnificent oak. All these individual parts of a garden are a source of gratitude that can be given to each of them.

Each part of the garden also has an “interbeingness”. It is a word and concept from Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He writes: “Interbeing: If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper.

The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. ‘Interbeing’ is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix ‘inter-‘ with the verb ‘to be,’ we have a new verb, inter-be. A cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are. If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat.

We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.”

If we look deeply into the garden we find its interbeing and we can give thanks to the elements of that interbeingness. Not only are the sun, rain and stars that fall on the garden in the flowers, leaves and soil of each plant, but also the gardener and guardian of the garden. Give gratitude to the seed collector and plant grower who sewed the seeds and grew the plants for sale or to be given away. I give gratitude to the squirrel who moved seed from my native persimmon tree to my neighbor’s yard and to the now 25 foot tall fruiting tree that gives me shade. I give thanks to my friend who saved native prairie plants along highway construction sites that now grow in many native plant restorations along with a few in my garden. He is part of the interbeing of those plants. The interbeing of my mother and the spring blooming native primroses always gladdens my heart. Her love of gardening lives on in those plants. I give thanks to those plants and her gift of gardening love that lives on in me.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also a mandala artist and creativity workshop leader.

Her blog and website are: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. Her phone number is (314) 504-4266.