Metaphor and the garden
Gardening offers a rich seam of linguistic colour through its long history in rural life and sayings. Agricultural metaphors date back hundreds of years, and still continue in common parlance today. They provide a crucial crutch in gardening therapy as people make sense of illness, disability or difficulties. It may be an old gardening lore or an application of a gardening practice to someone’s life that fires the imagination and fuels new-found energy for healing.
Ken, whose wizened face and yellowed, corrugated nails betrayed a life lived hard, found solace when putting weeds on the compost heap. He learned that weeds are simply plants in the wrong place, and found peace putting them in a useful compost. It was a turning point: he likened it to his life, finding meaning in ‘a place for everything’, that his life had a usefulness to him if he could find the right purpose. He began to seek purpose and gardening gave a new channel for his seeking. Slowly, over one Winter, his depression lifted as he tended broad beans and onions. A crackly smile returned to his face.
Image reproduced thanks to the National Trust