Wild Gardening Manifesto
When the sun shines these days it feels glorious. With a lot rain in Colorado in the last month—including torrential downpours, lighting, hail the last nights—the contrast of rain and shine feels particularly strong. The ones who seem to appreciate the dry, bright days the most are the bees. I have a hive in my backyard and went to visit them this morning. There is a very particular smell to a beehive, a little like honey, a little musky, a bit like warmth, hard to describe but very distinctive. The bees are very happy, entering and leaving the hive so quickly that to follow the trail of one single bee is almost impossible. It is almost like trying to watch the drops of water in a waterfall—not easy, and not really the essence of a waterfall. The bees, like the waterfall, seem to live in a process of continual movement; the shifting, but continuous activity most important.
After checking the bees, it is time to mow the lawn. This is the same lawn that earlier this spring yielded 20 gallons of pulled dandelions. Why do that? Why spend the time to pull 20 gallons? There must be easier ways. Well, because it helps you get outside, squat and kneel on the earth. There is no foolish ambition that all of them can be pulled. There are indeed still more in the lawn today. Also lots of clover, which someone once warned me to pull up quickly or it would infect the whole lawn. But the bees love the clover. Actually one bee scolds me quite vigorously for mowing over a particularly lush patch of clover, though not so angry as to sting. I did mow the clover, in spite of the protestations, but I know it will come back, and there will be more blossoms for the bees. The bees also love the dandelions; dandelions are the first flowers to emerge after winter, when the bees are most hungry. What a welcome feast! I could use chemicals and clear the dandelions and clover in a day, but I don’t. I do try to keep an eye on them, not let them totally take over, but also let them grow a little wild. I could not take away the dandelions and clover from the bees, and when I suddenly realize how hard it would be for the bees to lose them I am happy to continue use my weeding tools. It can be a challenge having so many wild friends, because you start to realize how interconnected and important they are to each other. Then you end up doing a lot of hand weeding.
The St. John’s Wort (Hypericum) is a delicate friend that keeps dying and reseeding in a slightly new place each year. It seems to long to fill the grass I mow, gradually climbing over bricks and borders into the lawn, so I mow a little less grass there each year. It actually lives happily with wild grass, and I am letting them both be, because I do not think I could dig out the grass without digging out the St. John’s Wort. In another place the yarrow (Achillea) gets a little broader each year, filling in any open spaces. It is quiet and seeming self-content. The lovage (Levisticum), such a good help with earaches, loves all this rain so much that now it now stands taller than I do, even when it was not even visible a few months ago.
There are many days that anthroposophic medicine feels a little bit like “wild” gardening—respecting the beauty and wisdom of life, working to see the connections, and trying not to use too many chemicals.
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