"He who cultivates a garden, and brings to perfection flowers and fruits cultivates and advances at the same time his own nature."
Ezra Weston, Massachussetts Horticultural Society, 1845
























I feel about plants as some people do about their dogs, cats or kids. Plants are sentient beings. I believe that millions of gardeners know this intuitively. They have a deep love relationship with their plants and experience some level of communication with them, but they don't talk about it for fear of ridicule from family and friends. One of the reasons I wrote Growing Myself : A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening (Plume, 1997) was to help people come out of the closet about talking to their plants. I hope to awaken others, who don't know yet that they are spiritual gardeners, to a natural way of being in the world that creates great beauty, healing and peace. There are many more of us than you might think. It's time to speak out!

My books and tapes are offerings to inspire and educate people to reconnect to themselves, each other, and the natural world. Within our own sphere of influence. each of us can be a living example. If we work to grow joy and love within ourselves and create beauty all around us, it will create a ripple effect that touches the world.

The time is ripe in America for us to embrace the marriage of spirituality and gardening. People are stressed out and exhausted and searching for spiritual answers. We have the material things we thought were supposed to make us happy but we're not. The quality of life on earth is deteriorating and the destruction of the plant kingdom is rampant. The chronic sense of isolation and separation we feel comes from our lack of connection to nature. Healing the earth is a global and overwhelming task. The very thought of it renders most of us feeling helpless and frustrated. Healing ourselves is where we can begin.

I do not have psychic powers nor am I clairvoyant. Everyone can develop sensitivity to plants and the natural world and need not have an outdoor garden to do so. I began this work on the sixteenth floor of an apartment house in New York City and connected with nature without ever touching the ground when I fell in love with houseplants. After all, one plant in a pot is the earth, too.

Growing Myself is my spiritual memoir of self-discovery and healing using my love affair with plants as a vehicle. It is a love story for gardeners and non-gardeners alike because it is about much more than gardening. Gardening with respect for the plants as sentient beings reconnected me to myself and to others and made the interconnectedness of all life a reality. My inner and outer gardens bloomed as I learned to connect with all living things.

All that matters is our intent. Simply by attempting to cooperate and communicate with plants and acknowledging the reciprocal nature of this exchange makes us interesting to the spiritual world. The spiritual world recognizes every effort and rewards it tenfold.

I learned from the Findhorn Community to give plants twenty-four hours notice before initiating any major process such as repotting, transplanting, cutting back or pruning. With this approach, the plant can do whatever needs to be done so it can anesthetize itself and avoid going into shock. Plants respond visibly to this kindness and respect. In the second chapter of Growing Myself called, "Patience and the Spider Plant," I tell the story of how I first experimented with giving notice when I repotted a potbound spider plant.

At first, I couldn't budge the spider from its pot. I decided I needed to tell it what I wanted to do and why. Since it was a tuberous plant, I could divide it in half to make two new plants. I drew an invisible line across the top of the soil to show where I wanted to make the cut. As I did so, I commented that it was ridiculous for the spider to remain attached to its outgrown pot. It needed new soil and room to grow. I pointed out two new hanging baskets filled with fresh soil and offered them to the spider as an enticement. I asked the plant for help and told it to give me a sign.

The next day the foliage had completely separated. Half of it had flopped to one side of the line I had drawn, and the other half had flopped over to the other side, somewhat akin to the parting of the Red Sea! When I tilted the pot, the rootball literally jumped on to the floor. No mess. No dirt. Just the day before, the rootball had been stuck in the pot like concrete. I regarded this seemingly miraculous behavior as a sign.All the hairs on my body were standing straight up.

When I cut the rootball, instead of having to grind away at it as I had in the past, the knife moved through as if the roots were made of soft butter. I repotted the divided plants and hung them together regarding them as recently separated Siamese twins. I realized that with a little notice and a lot of respect, I had initiated a cooperative effort with my plant.

Everyone can have a reciprocal relationship with plants. It is not a question of having magical powers. Indigenous peoples everywhere have cellular knowledge of this interconnection. It is the spiritual foundation of their lives. We have temporarily lost access to this sense. Through lack of use in our modern materialist society, the muscle has atrophied. Now is the time to reconnect. Start using that muscle by trusting your intuition and imagination. Just offer yourself in a spirit of cooperation and the rest will unfold automatically. The possibilities for growth and healing are infinite. Please join me in spreading the word in mutual support so we can all consciously partake in the mystery of life.

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