Gardening: An Act Of Resistance
‘Life begins the day you start a garden.’
~ Chinese Proverb
The sun is warm already and it’s still early. I cross the grass, the dew soaking my boots. The blackbirds are already out, tossing the fallen leaves from last autumn and other garden detritus in their search for a juicy worm or perhaps nesting material. There’s a small patch of dark earth, rich and fertile, before the garden closes in a corner left wild where ivy and elder grow and wild plants, mostly herb Robert and dog violet carpet the ground. So far I’ve planted onions, tomatoes, green beans and french beans. Then there’re my strawberries from previous years and a rhubarb I’ve had for a few. Salad leaves grow inside and chillies still sit on my bedroom windowsill awaiting the real hot weather. In my front garden, my fig tree has its first fruit.
Mid-May in the garden is a favourite time of mine, especially when the weather is good and the sunshine warm. There’re plenty of jobs that still need doing, plenty of potting , re-potting and planting out, and everything is growing well…so far. What better way to spend an hour or two, soaking up the sun with the birdsong orchestra, working with nature to make things grow.
Gardening is a kind of magic all within itself!
And yet gardening can be more. Whoever thought gardening was a genteel pass time has obviously never done it, for it can be hard and time consuming work. Whatever you feel gardening is, here I will argue that gardening is an act of resistance, a rebellion against the conformist, capitalist society and a way in which we can reconnect with nature and the land.
‘I like gardening. It is a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.’
Today when many of us must work long hours just to survive, getting out into the garden can at first seem like a chore. It is much easier to sit down, watch some mindless TV before going to bed only to wake up and do it all again in the morning.
But gardening is something that once you start, it’s hard to stop. There’s something so very satisfying about working with the land. When you’re feeling down, or bored, tired or even just a bit meh, gardening can help you feel more like you. Just being outside, close to nature is a good way of finding yourself and losing yourself all at the same time. Magic if ever there was such a thing!
‘The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not only the body but also the soul.’
Finding ourselves and rediscovering our closeness to nature is just the beginning of resistance. Gardening teaches us self reliance, it teaches us to work for ourselves and the joy that comes with eating produce grown with love and care. It highlights the symbiotic relationship we have with the land and our place within nature, a part of it and not that of spectator.
Gardening is resistance because it teaches us to become less reliant on others for our own survival. It also nourishes and feeds the soul, transcending the mundane. It alleviates us above the problems we face and shows us the stark reality of the cycles of life, death and rebirth. The fertile soil that gives life is born from dead things, and so, too, new life can grow from the corpse of corruption, if given the chance.
‘The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature half way.’
Gardening is also a rebellion against the loss of green space. It is a way for the small person, the individual to try and make a difference, and though you might argue that such an effort is a waste of time and energy, that it is but a drop in the ocean, to you I say I don’t care. There’s so much wildlife that visits or resides in my garden. There’re hedgehogs and goldfinches, blackbirds, robins, starlings, sparrows, not to mention the bees and other insects that are a vital part of the ecosystem. To those creatures, my efforts are very welcome indeed, and if only for that alone, they are indeed worth it.
But consider the difference that could be made if more people decided not to tarmac or concrete, slab or pave their outdoor spaces. What if instead they grew some flowers, trees and food? Whilst not tackling the issue of capitalism and the destruction wrought in the name of profit, it is a way for the individual to help bridge the gap and become an ally of nature. All successes have humble beginnings, so if gardening ignites that spark of rebellion and resistance, then it is as good a place as any to begin.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!
You can follow Emma on Facebook.