Wabi-Sabi!

I’ve decided to adopt a different kind of gardening style this year.  I’m calling it Wabi-Sabi Gardening.  I learned recently that wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy that encourages acceptance of imperfection and the subsequent celebration of imperfection’s transient beauty, particularly in regards to aesthetics.  To put it in clearer terms, I will quote writer/designer Leonard Koren’s definition:  “Wabi sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty…”  Bingo!  This was what I need – my golden ticket to free myself from the guilt of a hopelessly weed-infested garden.  My rudimentary personal practice of wabi-sabi (still in its infancy) goes something like this:  embrace and accept beauty’s imperfections in order to recognize that imperfections themselves are beautiful.  They are what make us and the things around us unique.  They are the sublime battle scars of our life stories.

I can think of no better philosophy to apply to my gardens – particularly this year.  Here in our little pocket, we have experienced record-breaking temperatures and humidity followed by destructive electrical storms and even hail, not to mention record rain-falls. This has all happened inside of four weeks.  Needless to say, most of what has survived in my gardens is weeds with the sporadic seedling interspersed between.  This year’s effort won’t be an entire loss.  Mother nature has a way of bouncing back.  Those little sprouts will persevere and produce fruit and veggies later this summer.  In the meantime, the weeds will put up goliath efforts to thwart any desirable outcomes.

This is the point where I am going to employ my fledgling understanding of wabi-sabi.  My intention is to just keep treading through the jungle of weeds with one goal- to maintain some small breathing space around my plants to ensure some possibility of success and to let the weeds have their fun in between the rows and edges of the gardens.  I am a beaten woman.  I can not possibly tackle the amount of growth overtaking the gardens myself.  I wholeheartedly refuse to employ the dubious help of herbicides.  So, I will do what I can, all the while embracing the imperfect overgrown rows.  After all, some weeds are attractive – tall flowering spikes of yellow and purple flowers.  Short, soft tufts of thick green carpet under my feet.  This is, I think, what wabi sabi is all about.  Maybe those weeds weren’t intended to be there.  Perhaps I didn’t openly invite them into my gardens.  But, they crashed my party anyway.  However, they did not come emptyhanded.  Their blooms will attract the pollinators that I so desperately need in my yard and their soft leaves and blades will keep my feet cool this summer.  As long as they abide by some very lenient rules (let me pick only the ones that are strangling my tomatoes and other edibles – all the others are free to carry on as they wish,) I think we’ll get along just fine this summer.  And, for my part, I will remember to give thanks for the unintended blooms that will lure the bees to the gardens and to learn to accept that I have forsaken control of the gardens – at least for this year.

Who knows?  Maybe I’ll make a habit of embracing wabi-sabi in my garden next year, too!

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