Pruning is an essential part of gardening. By pruning I mean cutting back the old, the dead, and the unwanted, to encourage new, stronger growth and better shapes. The trick is knowing what to cut and what to keep. Take my Gardenia Floribunda as an example. Currently it’s on the cusp of full bloom magnificence. My wedding bouquet was crafted with gardenias, so the creamy plush, perfumed flowers have a special place in my heart garden. Did I mention the heavenly fragrance? Oh my, the memories it evokes.
Prone to long leggy growth, I find that cutting back as I harvest the blooms, is the way to thicken up the bush and ensure lots of flowers next season.
Of course, any sort of pruning requires the right tools. Sharp, disinfected secateurs to ensure the cut is clean and no bacteria are introduced. The right frame of mind and some skill are essential too. One has to be brave. Too little pruned off could mean fewer blooms, or a weaker flush of new growth next season. Too much removed may mean no blooms at all, or even having to endure an ugly shape until the plant forgives me and restores itself. Ahh, the hubris of human gardeners!
Sometimes I have to be harsher than I’d like, to eradicate pests or disease. The lemon tree developed wasp galls which are best dealt with by removing the whole branch. I wondered: was I doing the right thing? Poor tree; I suffered through the trauma of that amputation but the tree survived. Cutting off an offending limb is radical but often necessary.
It takes practise and knowledge to prune well. It’s hard work and doubt-inducing. Mostly one has to have the will to do it.
This seems to be an obvious statement I know. I only restate it because it’s relevant when I apply the pruning concept to my ‘mind garden’. The same rules hold true. Firstly, there must be the will to prune unwanted thoughts and perspectives. This means cultivating a mindful consciousness; one where I am aware and present in the moment. Secondly, meditation and yoga are useful tools to in this quest. They develop the mind muscle for endurance.
My mind tools aren’t called Excalibur on a whim. It helps to imagine a long magical sword instead of small hand-sized plant cutters. The visualisation reminds me I have to draw deeply and wield with courage because this process can be painful.
Old thought habits ‘die hard’; they fight back and can be vicious in the face of extinction. Constant vigilance and practice on my part is needed but when I succeed, the result is as spectacular as my well-pruned gardenia. I make way for new more constructive thoughts to bloom and flourish, which allows a new, stronger version of me to emerge – I think I like her better.
Now, where did I put my sword – I mean my secateurs?
It is this, the chance at grace
That consoles my slowing pace.