Lessons from the Garden I

#1 – Shame!

Let’s start with the biggest punch in the guts … no point in building up to a big finale when you don’t know where the journey will take you!

When I say that the garden was transformed “through the skills of a team of guys” … what that actually translated as was: a friend of ours … from Paul’s running club … in the middle of lockdown … started a gardening business.

He was picking up work … filling his diary … growing his team … building his portfolio! As you would expect with a new business some of that that was coming through his existing network of contacts … friends … family … and, yes, running club pals!

You see exactly where this is going, don’t you?!

When Paul suggested that we use them to do the work a little bit inside of me died! Well, actually … if truth be told … probably quite a large part of me died!

Yet a glimmer of hope remained … I knew this guy would only perform quality work … and quality comes at a price … so my hope was that the quote for the work would throw the “let’s help a friend grow his business” plan out the window …

… we could merrily take ourselves off to the “Dundee Trusted Trader” website … and find someone cheaper to tackle the wilderness …

… but more crucially find someone unknown to us … and unknown to anyone we did know!!

But … no … the price came in within budget … and was comparable to the “going rate” for garden work like this … YES … of course I got Paul to check that out!! When bits of you are dying on the inside they don’t go down without a fight!

Typical … where are the big price tickets when you need them??!!

Some people don’t like hanging their underwear on the line … others have taken their phone to the toilet during a Zoom meeting unwittingly with audio and camera still connected … others have fallen face first in front of their boss … others have walked around all day with their skirt tucked into their pants …

… this was my version of humiliation about to land on our doorstep … LITERALLY!

And then on the run up … there was banter in the running club Facebook group … that went like this:

There was no offence intended and none taken at the banter … it was just banter … given and taken … between friends …

… but there was truth in it … there was shame being carried … and that was only too real.

Shame is a destroyer … and it can have very deep roots.

A LONG time ago I once heard someone say that you only needed to look in a christian’s backyard (garden) and it would tell you how well they would look after the things that God had given them to steward.


That thought became like an inner voice of shame within me. Regularly as I passed through, or looked at the garden, I could hear the loud whispers of that voice of shame taunting me.

I do not believe that my lack of gardening prowess (or effort) in any way reflects how I look after other things in my life … but the voice of shame takes no prisoners and accuses nonetheless … and sometimes viciously so!

Shame can bring a disconnect and even cut us off from relationships … in both simple and much deeper ways.

There were friends and family who I would dread the thought of dropping in … rarely (if ever) would I invite them … all much to the applause of my inner voice of shame. They would … after all judge my ability to love and care for them based on the state of my garden … especially the good gardeners … they were the worst and would of course judge me more … or so the voice of shame would tell me anyway.

The voice of shame is a liar … but it is a persuasive one.

Well … voice of shame … the garden is RESET … I’m calling time on your toxic whispers and banishing your company. After all, the voice of Truth tells me a different story …

Take me to: Lessons from the Garden – The Back Story

Lessons from the Garden

#0 – The Back Story

This week we pressed RESET on the garden!

It was LONG overdue … but in a season when everything feels to be in RESET mode, it felt timely.

I am always looking to hear what God is whispering to me in the every day ordinary of life … and I know that there is much in this garden RESET journey that I have to hear! So, it seems I may have myself a wee mini series to play with!

The garden came free with the house back when we bought it in 2003! The previous owners confidently told us “the garden looks after itself” … PERFECT! That is our kind of garden!

Over lockdown I learnt a new phrase … “judicious neglect” … had I known that phrase back in 2003 it would have exactly coined what sort of line we would have looked for in the house particulars:

“The house is boundaried by a sizeable walled garden with ample, relaxed, informal planting. The garden showcases rich, vibrant colour in late Spring into early Summer and will thrive best through judicious neglect.”

Over the 17 years that we have lived in the house, we have attended well to the judicious neglect which the garden demanded from us. Woven into that 17 years there have been moments where we have departed from that neglect and dabbled in some planting and maintenance … mainly at the hands of other people – paid and unpaid!!

This week, through the skills of a team of guys, what had become a rambling wilderness of interwoven trees, shrubs, flowers and weeds was transformed into a low maintenance clean slate (well chuckie actually!) of a garden.

Space for the new … with a few remnants of the old!

So where this mini series will take me I have no idea … I do know that there a few things bubbling about within in me about it all … but this, for now, sets the back story!!

And I guess it needs some before … and after … or perhaps more correctly so far! … pictures to bring that back story to life!



A space where I am being unpicked and repurposed.

Shona – a craftswoman. #ShonaMasonMakes

A woven garment and an unpicked dress. Repurposed. In/Complete.

Shona, a recent conversation about being unpicked and repurposed took me to your Facebook post about your new In/Complete boxy jumper … and as I talked I realised that God was very much catching my thought attention! Here’s where that took me! Nicola 💚


The bias binding … an old dress that could have easily been thrown out as of no more use – it had served its time – was worn out … BUT …. with a skilful eye to detail … the Craftswoman unpicks and repurposes it to be the perfect finishing detail on a new garment for a new season.

Like a flourish that completes, perfects, enhances and finishes the new.

That new garment itself is woven by the same skilled Craftswoman … time … effort … energy … creativity … taking the yarns from other skilled people … people skilled in their craft … a collaboration of talent … one relying on the other … none of them knowing what the end of the journey for this yarn would be .. but taking time over the formative stage.

The yarn becomes cloth .. the cloth is cut … the beginning of the final form starts to come together …. but, even here, the garment in its finished form is still unseen … unknown … incomplete …

… although it is seen, known and complete in part … it is not yet what it will finally become … even in the Craftswoman’s eye!

The cloth and the binding come together and are joined by the woollen sleeves of a single yarn – a contrast of textures and colour.

The garment is complete … yet In/Complete …

… the Craftswoman’s original intention was for it to have a big sweeping turtle neck … but something shifted and changed within her and her thoughts changed and the garment became Complete in it’s finished form …

… BUT … the Craftswoman is not yet finished!

She will go on to craft a loose cowl … a separate piece that can added or removed as the seasons shift … making the garment more flexible and more adaptable than perhaps was ever her intent … or even in her wildest imagination for what might become of that yarn when she first saw it … held it … began to dream for what it might be.

Then it will be complete … perhaps for a season … perhaps for ever … perhaps in time it will again be unpicked and repurposed … but for now … it is In/Complete.

And so I am reminded of Father … “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him” …

… and I am struck that the clay had became marred … even in the expert potter’s hand … BUT … he unpicked and repurposed it … as seemed best to him …. and I wonder … what became of that pot … what was its final form in that season … did it become something else in a different season … what was its In/Complete journey?

I also am In/Complete. Being unpicked. Being skilfully repurposed.