In our garden of life, many people come and go. Our interactions with others can be
beneficial or detrimental to our well-being, growth, and development. I have always
carried a very romanticized view of love and relationships. Only in the last few years
have I become to understand and appreciate those who grow nearest to me within the
borders of my garden. Like herb and vegetable varieties that may be planted together
for mutual benefit, the perennial presence of my closest companions cultivates a clear
capacity for collective encouragement, strength, protection, and love.
In gardening and agriculture, companion planting is the practice of growing certain
plants in close proximity to each other. These garden friends improve intake of
nutrients, promote the presence of pollinators, preclude pernicious pests, and bolster biodiversity. Growing gracefully together, these companion plants complement each other. Tomato and basil are savory partners both in and out of the garden. In the
kitchen, these two plants mingle together deliciously in a variety of Italian dishes.
Alongside each other in the garden, the aromatic basil deters pests from the tomato,
allowing the tomato to bear fruit more bountifully. Moreover, many gardeners have
noted that neighboring basil brings about a noticeable sweetness in the tomato.
Another familial trio in the garden is known as The Three Sisters. The Three Sisters,
corn, climbing beans, and squash, are plants of agricultural significance for various
indigenous groups across North America. For centuries, these three culinary crops have been celebrated in Native American tradition and cultivated together to
complement each other both in and out of the garden. Corn provides the stalk to
support the climbing beans vertical growth. As nitrogen-fixers, the beans take nitrogen,
an essential nutrient for plant growth, from the air and convert it into a form that can be
absorbed by the corn and squash roots from the soil. In addition, with taut tendrils
twisted lovingly around the corn, the beans provide stability and support to corn in
stormy weather. Growing lush and low to the ground, the big leaves of squash shade
the ground, retaining moisture in the soil and suppressing weed growth. Outside of the
garden, each member of this timeworn triumvirate brings to the table specific vitamins, minerals, and macromolecules to concoct a delicious, nutritionally balanced, culinary creation.
In the landscape of my life, I have cultivated a variety of relationships. My perennial
companions are age-old, steadfast, and rooted deeply in trust, loyalty, and love. We
expand, mature, and thrive together. We nourish each other with understanding,
acceptance, grace, laughter, and joy. Supporting each other in growth, we celebrate the unfolding of our beauty bursting forth from our authentic self. In times of disturbance, we encircle each other tightly to weather our sadness and grief.
In recent years, I have tended thoughtfully to an assortment of seasonal relationships.
These annual allies settle close to me quickly and spark my passion, generosity, and
vulnerability. They sway me to stay in the present moment, share their spirit, and alter
my aspect. It is through their ephemeral existence that I renew my purpose and root deeper in my authentic self. Seasons change and it is hard to let go. As I push through
the layers of compacted grief and sadness, I acknowledge and honor the wisdom,support, and unconditional love so freely shared by those with whom I have spent time,no matter how brief. I continue to grow in compassion, gratitude, and patience for others, for myself, and my journey.
Sarah Croscutt is the owner and facilitator of From the Outside, LLC, a program that connects people to the natural world, themselves, and each other through plant and nature-based activity, promoting self-awareness, healing, wholeness, and community. In addition, she is an environmental writer with essays included in several anthologies published by Plants and Poetry Journal and Wild Roof Journal (online). You can connect with her through her website or on Instagram @sarahc_outside.