Garden Metaphor Feature

A Garden Disguised as a Metaphor

I’m starting to think my house is surrounded by a metaphor rather than a garden. It’s always trying to say something to me, although up until recently, mostly it was telling me what an awful person I am to let a garden go untouched for three years.

Yep, three years. As in: since we moved here. More on this later.

Recently, it’s been teaching me to heed my own advice, specifically the advice I dish out to everyone I know (and even those I don’t).

You can learn anything you want to

You really can. Want to learn how to fly a drone? Need to pick up some cooking skills? Keen to develop yarn bombing techniques for re-covering the Sydney Opera House?

You can do all of that. Well… you might need to assemble a formidable team for the last one, but I have faith in you.

I generally have faith in my ability to learn anything, too – with one notable exception.


The story so far

Once upon a time, I’d tell people about my terrible death toll with plants.

“Don’t even let me near a plant!” I’d say. “I kill them just by being in a ten metre radius of them.”

Generally, they’d laugh, but it was true. My mere presence was death to plants.

Tim’s aunt, a rare believer in my plant-killing abilities, once gave me a plant and told me not to do anything with it: don’t water it, don’t prune it, don’t do anything but have it. “You can’t kill it,” she told me.

It died several weeks later.

None of this ever made any sense because my parents are fabulous gardeners. They plant things and nurture them and they stay alive in a fabulous display of horticultural ability. Why couldn’t it work for me, too?

So when we moved into our own house, I did nothing to the garden beyond wondering how long it would last in such close proximity to me and my plant-death aura.

This year, though… This year I decided I was going to keep a plant alive.

One plant. I didn’t want to over-reach myself.

I bought a plant (a dwarf abutilon or ‘Chinese lantern’, if you’d like to know). I watered it. I kept it out of direct sunlight. I re-potted it when it grew too large for its first pot.

It rewarded me with flowers.

Garden Metaphor Abutilon

All this in a couple of months! Buoyed by the confidence that comes from reaching a bar set low, I bought two more plants.

Garden Metaphor Two Plants

They’re still alive, too. I even went crazy and bought another plant: a lavender that is about four times the size it was when I put it in a pot by the gate. It’s currently covered in flowers and bees, both of which make me happy.

Garden Metaphor Lavender

It has been ten months since I last killed a plant

I still can’t believe it, but all of the plants are still alive.

I will repeat that:


And now? Now I’m getting adventurous. Now I’m looking at overgrown garden beds and planning what I’ll do to make them amazing.

Such as this one.

Garden Metaphor Project

I mean, sure, the weeds are lovely and green and there are some actual non-weeds in there, too, but that’s not what it looks like in my head. No, in my imagination, the weeds and actual plants are gone and some gorgeous native plants are in their place. I’m thinking a combination of white and purple flowers would be perfect.

It still feels weird to me, this gardening business. It feels rather grown-up and responsible to be planning a pretty garden for visitors and passers-by to see.

On the other hand, this all proves that anyone can learn anything they want to. I often have people tell me they wish they could knit or sew, or they wish they could take great photos and I always tell them they just have to start.

Because, honestly, if a plant-killer can turn into a gardener with just a bit of effort, then imagine what you could do!

P.S. I will be keeping you updated with the process of my garden bed. Of course.

P.P.S. Does anyone have tips on how to get weeds to take a hint and leave forever?

Try these stories next


/anne... 11th October 2018 - 4:31 pm

Try reading some permaculture books – lots of hints on low-effort gardening, weed suppression, and other things. My favourite quote is “there is no such thing as too many snails, just not enough ducks”.

It’s an Australian system, so perfectly sensible and appropriate to our climate. The emphasis is on food plants, but some of them are natives too 🙂

Katie 11th October 2018 - 9:25 pm

Thanks for the advice – I’ll hit the library and see what I can find. We have heaps of ducks in our town, so perhaps all I have to do is find a way to tempt them into my yard!

/anne... 12th October 2018 - 4:27 pm

I think you’re in my library system :-). A book I enjoyed recently was Incredible Edibles, with, I think, 50 different food plants that aren’t the usual ones you find; how to grow them, and (very important) how to cook them.

With pictures, so you can pick the pretty ones!

Katie 12th October 2018 - 5:44 pm

Thanks for the recommendation! That one sounds great.

K.M. Allan 11th October 2018 - 8:00 pm

Love lavender. Also a plant I’m good at not killing. Plant some nandinas. They’ll grow anywhere and will survive pretty much anything. To slide off topic for a second, I’ve tagged you in a writers tag, which you can find on my blog. No pressure to play along, just if you want to.

Katie 11th October 2018 - 9:27 pm

Lavenders are such pretty plants! I can’t deal with the scent, but I love looking at them. I’ll definitely add nandinas to the list – thanks!

And thanks for tagging me – I’ll check that out on your blog tomorrow. 🙂

Antoinette Truglio Martin 12th October 2018 - 12:42 pm

Gaedeningbis good for the soul and a worthy endeavor. Personally, green is green even if it is in weed family.

Katie 12th October 2018 - 1:25 pm

That’s so true – those weeds look like they’re doing so well. We have a lot of flowering weeds along our fence at the moment and they look rather artistic.


Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: