The Onion Flower

Writer and Horticulturist

Wabi Sabi




My relationship to nature changed when I began to garden. Not that I didn’t always enjoy nature, but for some reason the physical act of tending a garden has strengthened my attachment to it. Now I want to look at and feel a part of nature. I want to find somewhere I can get off the beaten path and see it doing its own thing, without my interference. When I walk I study the weeds and trees, the insects and creatures that inhabit them. How can I bring that symbiosis into my life I wonder? All gardening is an attempt to get closer to nature, to understand its rhythms. I remind myself to garden with abandonment in hopes of achieving the ‘wabi sabi’ beauty I find there.

Spider and Yellow Leaf

My own small urban garden gives the illusion that it is bordering on wilderness, but the reality of all gardening is that it is about control. Disappear and your garden reverts to what it really wants to be. As I get older I’m more interested in exploring that fine line. Can I live and garden in a space without completely taking it over? Can it feed me, literally and figuratively without having to bend it to my will?     

Squirrel Leavings

The slow decay that begins to creep in during the fall makes it easier to follow this path. The time for barely restrained exuberance and growth is over; the need to marshal things into a height of productivity is declining. Come September I am usually ready for this change. Not only is the garden winding down but so am I. Autumn is when it’s easiest to let go as so little feels within my control anymore. It is a bittersweet time of year, the culmination of work and hope and the sweet exhaustion that comes with it. This is the best time for taking walks and observing how nature puts her own garden to rest. Where have the insects and creatures gone? They are lying low, much like me.


2 thoughts on “Wabi Sabi

  1. Beautifully said/written. And it makes me feel better about not being able to/trying to control so much of my own space 🙂

    • Did you come home from your vacation to chaos? Funny how there’s still garden work to do in November. I had rosy visions of seeing myself sitting with a book in the evenings and finally relaxing but I’m still cooking down 50 pounds of chard from the garden, roasting and mashing jerusalem artichokes and drying herbs by the basket-full!

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