Thursday, April 30, 2015

What weeds are teaching me. A gardener's tale

Dandelion season is upon us. The first flush of dandelions appearing in fields and on verges is a cheerful sight ... but on my allotment they are a pernicious weed.
Difficult to get rid of too. If you try to mow them down, the cut flowers will still produce seeds ...

So today I spent 2 hours picking hundreds, no thousands, of dandelion heads. Painstakingly. Tedious, tedious work. And it got me thinking.

I am someone who easily lets negative thoughts run away with her. Somehow "being prepared for the worst" turns into ruminating about every possible thing that could possibly go wrong at every possible moment.

So picking dandelion heads became a metaphor for dealing with negative thoughts.
Rather than worry about the many hundred dandelions which were still there, I tried to remind myself that every single dandelion I had picked was one which would not go to seed and produce more dandelions.

Now, for dandelion read negative thought.
Every negative thought which I manage to nip in the bud and stop from growing bigger and stronger is one less negative thought I will ruminate over and allow to occupy my thinking.
It requires constant vigilance and awareness - recognising the emerging thought and putting a stop to it.
By distracting yourself from it; by thinking about something positive; by finding constructive solutions ... whatever it is that works best.

By the time I had finished, the plot looked like this. Not a cheery yellow in sight!
Now, I know fine well that next week, or even tomorrow, some dandelions will be back.
But there will be fewer of them!
And over time the first flush of them will ease and their emergence will reduce.

In the same way, negative thoughts will lessen, if you keep on top of them.
Don't get me wrong, there will be times and seasons when you will be more susceptible to negative thinking. Because of your frame of mind at the time or because of circumstances or because of other factors.
Negative thoughts will sneak up on you, and sometimes you will find it easier to deal with them than others.

Don't beat yourself up about it. Keep plucking.
The more you weed, the more you can grow the pretty things.


  1. This looks like an interesting blog.

    If you don't tackle the dandelion roots they will soon be in flower again. Even when you remove all the root you can, a little piece is often left behind and the dandelion grows back, but not so quickly as the flowers return after being picked off. You need a long term strategy to beat them.

    I think the analogy with negative thoughts is still pertinent. Tackling their roots is helpful, too, but can be very tough.

    1. Hi Karin. Getting to the root of the problem definitely still works. Thanks for contributing to my garden philosophising. Can one remain non-dualistic about weeds, I wonder? ;)

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  2. Making the world a better place one dandelion at a time :-)