How To Grow The Garden Of Your Dreams …… In Six Easy Steps

Jun 10, 2014

Step One. Read books. Lots of them.

People will tell you to put down your books and join the real world, for heaven’s sake. They will remind you that you live in a university dorm or an apartment reached by only a sliver of light or a temporary rental and do not even think of wasting time or money on land you do not own, but you would do well to smile and say nothing. Go on. Read. Read your books and dream your dreams. You are storing up treasures in heaven.


Step Two. Pay attention to desire.

When winter wears on and you cannot stand it one more day, lean in to that ache. Accept that the two things you want most in life, a garden and a baby, may never be yours. But take heart. The moment you break under the weight of longing is the moment you wash out an old yogurt container and fill it with dirt and a few grass seeds. When the grass seeds sprout you will run your hand over cool greenness while icy snow tap-taps against the window. The smell of a few blades of grass snipped with kitchen scissors is the smell of hope.


Step Three. Try and fail.

When a friend invites you to share a plot in the neighborhood community garden, say yes. Say yes, even though you don’t actually know anything about growing vegetables. Commit to reading more books with titles like Practical Kitchen Gardens and fewer books with watercolor illustrations and titles like Roses I Have Loved.  Say yes even though you are hugely pregnant and you cannot exactly bend over. When your firstborn, your longed-for baby girl, arrives that September, your friend will bring you pasta made with tomatoes and basil you did little to tend. For the rest of your days that combination of flavors will recall your daughter’s sleepy infant smile.


Step Four. Live without.

Trade your community garden plot in a northern city for a Florida backyard dominated by concrete pavers and chlorinated water. Watch your potted flowers shrivel and die beneath the showery splashes of three children. Look at those children and remember that God does sometimes give us the desires of our hearts. Pray for the garden of your dreams. Pray for those impractical, impossible roses.


Step Five. Dig.

When you come home to your own bit of earth at last, dig. Scatter your seeds widely and see what takes root. Do not despair when the groundhog churns holes, rabbits nibble tulips, and two chickens vanish in the night. Despite all that you do not possess (knowledge, time, energy, even, some days, vision), spring will come and seeds will grow. Desire is sometimes deep buried. Rock the baby girl, the fourth-born child you never knew you always wanted, while the snow tap-taps against the window.


Step Six. Rest.

After long days of ripping invasive vines and clearing weed trees, sit still in the shady spot you’ve made. Sit still long enough to notice the smell of memory. It is the almost-forgotten smell of your father’s roses, the roses your mother sent you out to cut just before guests arrived for dinner. Follow that smell around the curve of the just-cleared fence until you find it. A wild rambler, like but not like all the wild roses growing on the edges of this place. This one is not white but blush pink. This one does not sit like a stubborn tangle of thorns, but drapes gracefully across the ruined stones of the old barn. This one does not give out a whisper of spiciness but, rather, smells like rose-with-a-capital-R. It smells like the real deal.

Ask yourself if a garden is a thing made by human hands or a free gift of God.

Wonder, for the first time, if God’s glory can be cultivated. Perhaps it is a gift to be tended a thousand different ways in every place and every season.

For all your days.


spring work


  1. Veronica

    To my Garden Friend,
    My garden composed mainly of flowers and shrubs, makes me smile each time I see it. As I sometimes trace rose petals with open hands, I reflect on God’s wonderful creation. I planted, God has made it bloom. My garden has many of the attributes you listed: some knowledge gained, unmet desires, failure, and yes, even rest. But no matter the season, even though flowers are hidden well beneath the Earth, the roots are still there, a reminder that God is also.

    ” Perhaps it is a gift to be tended a thousand different ways in every place and every season. For all your days.” Love this.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you for your words, Veronica. Blessings to you AND your garden.

  2. Diana Trautwein

    Almost. . . almost, this makes me want to dig into a garden once again. But alas, my knees will not allow it, so I make do with pruning and observing, advising and instructing, as my husband tends most of our yard. This is lovely, Christie. And the photo? To die for! Is that you??

    • Christie Purifoy

      Diana, I’m so glad you have a partner in the garden. And, yes, that’s me. Captured by my sister during her recent Easter visit.

  3. Danielle Davey

    Thank you, Christy. I needed this today.

  4. Danielle Davey

    Christie, not Christy!

  5. Summer

    Love. Love this bit of God Eden. Love you. Love that picture. Glorious, my friend.

  6. Tracy Defina

    Ahhhhhh, God’s glory – a gift to be tended!! I love that!
    Thanks Christy



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