Planting Time (2)

by | Nov 10, 2016 | Uncategorized | 16 comments


What have you been planting this spring? 

I spent a long weekend on my block of land recently, with my hands in the soil. After pulling out armfuls of onion weed, I began to wake the garden up with a thorough digging. My spade unearthed one fat worm after another, and as I held it poised in mid-air, the worms slowly turned and wriggled down into the ground again.  On the third day I was ready to plant.
As I sat with my hands in the dirt, mixing in lime and sheep pellets, a feeling of great happiness overcame me. From across the valley I could hear the call of the pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo, a song that rose and fell with infinite grace. Closer, through the waving heads of manuka, riroriro, the grey warbler, trilled its carefree tunes.

As I tucked beans, lettuces, courgettes, and the first tomato into the soil, I knew this was exactly where I was meant to be: sitting on the earth in spring-time, planting.

Planting hope

Sometimes, planting seeds and seedlings represents a triumph of hope over experience. Over the past year my carrots, lettuces and kale have been nibbled to death by some creature. What could it be? A possum? A rabbit? Slugs and snails?

I discovered the answer last summer when, glancing out of the kitchen window at dusk, I saw a rabbit suddenly hop out of the bushes. Oh dear. Rabbits are harder to control than slugs, snails and possums. Yet I’ve planted again.

Foolish, perhaps, to plant after losing so many, but I can’t resist. Not to plant in spring feels as impossible as not to harvest in autumn. Since childhood, growing a garden has been an essential way of life and a way of joining the rhythm of the seasons.

I’m wondering if you are a gardener and if planting is important to you? I’m wondering how you foster your connection to the earth, and what it is that keeps you planting, despite setbacks.



Planting with tender hands

There’s a phrase used to describe the action of planting a seedling, where first you tease out the delicate roots and fan them out, ready to move sideways into the soil, and then you firm the earth around the stem.

‘Bedding in’ is the phrase. I am reminded of seed bed, bedrock, and  bed-side. For me the phrase evokes a combination of tenderness and firmness. As I bedded in the lettuce seedlings, I knew I was helping them to find a firm anchor in the new soil.

I thought about how my father used to tuck me into bed at night by tightening the sheets and blankets on either side until I felt cocooned and safe. And then I thought about the values we ‘bed in’ when we reaffirm hope—in a child, a friend, a project, a dream.

Discouragement is part of life.
Bedding in your hopes and dreams, over and over,
is a life skill to practise and cherish.

What are you bedding in this spring?
What hopes are you planting?


The best time for an act of hope

When life delivers upheavals, distressing events and disappointments, at such times planting becomes an act of faith, that goodness can be restored and values bedded in once more.

This is what happened for me forty years ago. When after two years in Paris I returned to New Zealand with my one year old son and a broken heart, I ended up living in my bach on the coast. That’s when I started the garden.

I dug in chicken manure from the local farm, and seaweed from the beach. When the water tank ran low, I brought buckets of water up from the stream below. In those days I grew rows of sweet corn, beans galore and fine pumpkins. I cared for those plants as if they were life itself.

The land became a place of deep nurture. Through gardening I practised hope. I learned about regeneration. And the healing power of nature. Sitting there with my hands in the soil still makes my heart sing.

In times of distress, plant something.
In times of upheaval, plant something.
In times of sorrow, plant something.
And, in times of joy, plant something.

May your heart sing too, as you bed in new plants and hopes in this green and burgeoning season.

I find hope in the darkest of days,
and focus in the brightest.
I do not judge the universe.

—Dalai Lama



Would you like to deepen your connection?

How is your connection with nature? Has it become veiled, affected by life events or simply the overwhelm of juggling too many things?

Would you like to find ways of bedding in a connection that will sustain you through all seasons and life events? If so, do take a look at the wonderful online course I’ll be offering again early in 2017.

Sacred Earth has been designed specifically to bring your relationship to nature into a place of power and partnership.

Participants from 2016 said the course was ‘inspirational’, ‘delivering beyond my expectations’, and delivering ‘enormous benefits.’

If you would like to find out more, then please click here. 


This post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of my website and receive a free audio meditation.


  1. Sue

    I love my garden and I bought some little plants yesterday but waited to plant them I was picking up my 9 year old grandson from school. He has watered my plants from a toddler so together we prepared the soil and chatted away. I know the plants will grow as they were planted with love and each time my munchkin visits he will talk to them and water them. What a beautiful time of hope for us both. Plants grow like memories.

    • Juliet Batten

      Sue, how beautiful to be planting with your grandson. You are teaching him about planting with love. Thank you so much.

  2. Anne Conroy

    Thank you for another wonderful post Juliet. My lovely mum passed away in September so in her memory I have planted Xmas lilies which she always grew in abundance. My garden has unintentionally become a memory garden with the Peace Rose and ANZAC poppies blooming in memory of my maternal grandfather, hearts-ease for my son who died as a baby, and dahlias for my late Dad. For myself I have planted ‘ritual seeds’; creating heart centered ceremonies using the labyrinth which I intend to have ready for next year. It is indeed a time of personal growth and spiritual expansion.

    • Juliet Batten

      Anne, how beautiful to plant Xmas lilies in memory of your mother, and to have other memorial plants in there as well, including for your baby son. I have an amaryllis that I planted for my mother-in-law when she died, and every year it flowers again close to the anniversary. Heart-centred ceremonies sound wonderful. Thank you for sharing this soul food.

  3. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet … what a great thoughts – yes today I shall plant that seed that’s been waiting to have a life … even though I’m in the north … my seed idea needs to be out and going … so come Spring – it can really take off – cheers Hilary

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Hilary, and may your seed thrive and flourish!

  4. Gallivanta

    Mostly I have been weeding. But yesterday I planted a cosmos seedling. Just one. The ground was hard, so I am waiting for promised rain before I plant more. I plant, for the most part, in hope; hope that something will survive; hope that there will be joy.

    • Juliet Batten

      Gallivanta, cosmos are such lovely flowers, and I hope yours will thrive and that your hopes will be realised. Thank you.

  5. Nadezda

    Interesting thoughts, Juliet. I love ‘bedding’ as well and always hope to have good crop, but… the climate has its own plans for spring and summer 🙂
    I love to talk to my plants : be well, healthy, grow faster, not to hurt my fingers, etc. I think they like to be treated so as they are alive.

    • Juliet Batten

      Nadezda, I love the way you look after your plants, and the plants certainly seem to respond! Thank you.

  6. Penny

    Such an uplifting post, Juliet; which I am reading at a time that I need that hope and encouragement you offer. My “bedding in” (I love that phrase) is more of putting the garden to bed right now, but, I always look forward to springtime and the teasing of roots and turning of soil. I look forward to seeing more of your garden as it starts to push forth and grow.

    • Juliet Batten

      Penny, I’m so glad my post has brought some comfort at a time of need. Bedding in, as putting the garden to bed, what a nice way to think of your autumn garden. Gardeners across the world we are. Thank you.

  7. ruth

    Enriching! Inspiring. Thank you Juliet.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Ruth.

  8. marja

    “Discouragement is part of life.
    Bedding in your hopes and dreams, over and over,
    is a life skill to practise and cherish.”
    Beautiful wisdom Love it.
    We have a big garden and vegie garden. My husband does most of the work but I enjoy every cm of it. In the morning before work I always have a little stroll around the garden to take in all the beauty

    • Juliet Batten

      Marja, how wonderful it is to be able to stroll around a garden. What a great way to start the day. Thank you for your kind remarks.


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