My Wabi-Sabi Gardens

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar on passionflower vine. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning and is also a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly.

Instead of making unrealistic resolutions at the first of the year, the new challenge is to find one word to focus on.  One word that tells people who you want to be or how you want to live.  Some common words chosen, for example, are courage, persevere, and strong.    A few weeks ago, I found a word and realized this is the perfect word for me (and fun to say!) and what I needed to focus on for the year.
Wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics constituting a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Social media gives me the opportunity to show only the best flower or vegetable in my garden.  In reality though, this is not so.  Imperfection, flawed beauty, and shortcomings abound all around me and I’ve got to learn to be ok with that.   
When you see holes in your passionflower leaf, the gulf fritillary caterpillars have arrived. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning.
For any person who has strived to grow organically (as I do), imperfection is actually quite common.  My tomatoes might have crack or two and my peppers will most likely be misshapen but I can assure you, the flavor is unmatched.  I have strived to create an environment on my farm where bees forage on healthy flowers, butterflies can lay eggs on chemical-free plants, and beneficial bugs help fight the bad bugs.  This means I will probably have holes in my foliage, Bermuda grass as a ground cover, and a bug or two (or twenty) to deal with.

For personal likes, I have been practicing wabi-sabi my whole life as I am naturally drawn to old, worn, chipped and rusty things.  I love a good flea market find, dilapidated barns and houses, and heaven help me if I see a piece of furniture with chippy paint.  The imperfection makes it more interesting for me and I love incorporating some of these finds in my garden.
My rusted teapot I found at my recycling center planted with sedums.
Wabi-sabi almost sounds like an excuse to let my garden get out of hand, and I’m sure that is not what the true meaning is about.   I can assure you I will be fighting the bermuda grass and bugs this summer, but I vow I will not let those imperfections define me as a gardener.
mexican sunflower and monarch
So, as I venture through 2018, my type-A personality will strive to embrace the mantra of wabi-sabi in the garden the best I can.  Where imperfection is accepted and shortcomings are not dwelled upon.

Comments are closed.