Conscious Gardening: 7 Simple Steps to working Co-creatively with Nature


by Heidi Wedd

Ever wonder how you could make a difference to the planet on a personal level? Quietly, in your own garden you can be a personal activist for planetary change.

She is known as Mother Earth or Mother Nature, as the relationship humans have with her is a motherly one.  Like a Great Mother, the Earth is the nurturer and provider of all human needs – food, air, fire and water.  It is easy to forget this living in an age of packaged foods and water from a tap, but the fact remains.  While the Mother-Child/Earth-Human relationship is a dependent one, that doesn’t mean that as the child “grows up”, it can’t develop a more healthy, balanced relationship with Mother. 

With maturity it is possible to communicate, honour and work with her.  It is possible to not only take what we need, but listen to her needs, and even give back!  The Earth is no different.  Right now she needs humanity to step up and start listening!

Here are seven simple steps you can take to begin to shift your focus into a healthier, more conscious relationship with nature.  And what you do on the personal level, you activate in the collective.  When the collective evolves we get change on a grand scale.  So, let’s go….

  1. Remember that Plants are Living Beings with Feelings.

That plants have sentience and feelings is now well documented.[i]  When you are gardening, try to remember that the plants and the soil are living beings.  While plants may function differently to humans, that doesn’t make them any less intelligent.  In fact, there is growing evidence that they communicate in far more sophisticated ways than was first imagined.[ii]

Imagine you are the plant.  How would you want to be treated?  Try to honour the life and intelligence within it.  When you go to a hairdresser do you prefer to be consulted about the hairstyle you would like?  Or are you happy for the hairdresser to just go right in and do whatever they want?  How does it feel when you come out with a haircut you don’t want? 

In my experience, nature is incredibly forgiving.  But the joy and love that comes from plants when they feel heard and worked with, will return to you a thousand-fold.

  1. Deep Listening.

Take it slow.  Get to know the plants and the area you are working with before you start.  Spend some quality time simply connecting and being present.  When we develop a relationship with a person, listening to them is one of the first steps in getting to know them.  Plants communicate in different ways to humans and are speaking volumes at any moment.  It is up to you to open and expand your senses and really listen. 

Deep listening and presence can open you up to learning the language of plants.  Like any language it can take a bit of practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become proficient in time. 

Listen with your whole being.
Listen with your heart.
Hear with your feelings.
Expand and use all of your senses.

Information may often just land or ‘come to you’ intuitively the quieter time you spend just being in your garden or with a particular tree or plant. 

  1. Is it necessary? Examine your Motives.

When you are planning to do something in the garden, examine why you’re doing it.  It may be useful to ask: Is this for the highest good of the planet?  Will my actions do harm?  If your motives are personal, consider them in the above contexts. 

If you are going to weed or cut down a tree, are you then going to replace it with something?  Every tree and plant provide much needed oxygen and processes carbon dioxide for us.  Is cutting an 80-year-old tree down so you can have a panorama without interruption for the highest good of the planet?  One old tree offers more to us and the health of the Earth than a field of young trees.  Weigh up all the facts.  Think global, act local. 

Recently I was planning to pull away a vine that appeared to be strangling a fruitless avocado tree.  I thought that the vine may be reducing its life force.  But when I tuned in, the information I received was that this vine was doing more for the planet and for the greater good than the need for the avocado to fruit.  My desire for avocadoes was a personal one.  Having said this, I’m sure if I went back and explained my desire for homegrown food, there may be another solution.  I may be given ways to not only improve the avocado tree, but to mitigate the effect of pulling down the vine. 

Nature is entirely loving and generally very happy to work co-creatively with us.  If we share our needs, while at the same time being willing to hear and honour the needs of her, there is always a solution.  This is key to working co-creatively. 

  1. Give Notice.

If you need to prune, weed, transplant or repot, try to give the plant/tree/garden notice of your intentions.  Plants work on a different time scale to us.  It takes time for them to adjust and prepare.  Take things slowly.  Does it really need to happen right now?

Giving notice of your intentions allows time to withdraw sap and life force back into other parts of the tree, or in the case of weeding – to other plants.  Without giving notice, the plant has no time to do this and will ‘bleed’.  It is like cutting the umbilical cord before the placenta is born, the baby loses up to 30% of its blood supply.  This takes weeks to recreate, leaving the baby vulnerable to anaemia and immune problems.[iii] 

I like to send out a prayer as I weed.  I pray that the energy of these plants goes back into the earth.  It’s also beautiful to give back any weeds or pruning matter to the area from which they came via compost.  Essential information is shared for the health of your garden in this way.[iv]  This is lost when you buy compost or send yours away.

Pruning a tree – a rough guide would be to give at least 2 days’ notice or more if you can.  Be specific.  If you need to prune a branch from over your house, communicate to the tree which branches you need to remove.  You can do this in any way that feels right – words, thoughts, feelings.  Use your intuition to know if the tree has received your message. 


Transplanting or re-potting.  Give at least 24 hours’ notice.  When I first tried this some years ago, I had a plant in a big terracotta pot that needed re-potting.  It was stuck firm, immovable.  I shared my intentions and the following day when I returned, it basically fell out of the pot complete!  This works!  Try it. 

  2. Timing – Work with Nature’s Cycles.

Living in houses with electricity and shopping in supermarkets has created a disconnect between humans and nature.  Are you aware of the cycles of the moon, the seasons, the seasonal fruits available? Are you aware of how they affect the growth of plants and yourself?

  • Consider the life cycle of the plant when you are trimming or harvesting. Pruning a plant when it is flowering, or fruiting is stressful to a plant that is in the process of gifting.  How does it feel when you are sharing the tender gifts of your heart and someone cuts you off midway? 
  • When a plant has finished fruiting/flowering, many are then ready to be cut back, their energy may already be turning inward, preparing for the next cycle, letting go of the old growth.
  • Harvesting is the same. When fruits, seeds and flowers are ready to be harvested they will basically fall into your hands.  They are ready and want to be taken.
  • Each plant is different, get to know its cycle and try to work with If in doubt, ask!  (See Step 6).
  • Contemplate the seasons and the life force in plants throughout the year.
  • Gardening with the Moon is another way of harnessing the powers of nature. As a rough guide, the waxing moon is a time for sowing seeds and nurturing growth.  The waning moon is a time for composting and weeding.  The new moon and full moons are still points, where it is best to avoid active gardening, but instead to spend time enjoying and appreciating nature, sending it love and gratitude for its gifts.
  1. Ask the Plants for Guidance.

Ask the plants for permission and guidance.  It is their body after all!

  • Open your heart, use your imagination, listen deeply. This is an art, a practice that will get easier the more you do it.  “Talk” to your plants in any way that works for you. 
  • If you have to prune a tree, ask which branches it would be okay to let go of. Ask where on that branch is the right place to cut.
  • When weeding the garden, ask to be shown which plants to weed and which to leave. Compost all of your weeds.
  • If a plant is unwell, spend time sending it love. Ask how you can help. 
  • When planting, ask the plant where it would like to live.
  • Hold Conscious Tree Planting Days in your community – get everyone to spend time tuning into the tree they are about to plant. Then, listening with their hearts, to ask the tree to guide them to where it would like to be planted.  Plants may sense information that we have no knowledge of that may affect their life – underground streams, discordant energies, enemy plants etc. 
  • Trust the plant’s guidance and follow it wholeheartedly.

  1. Nature is a Reflection of your own Microcosm.

My garden is full of Oxalis, a ‘weed’, which I regularly removed.  One day I tuned into Oxalis who, far from being grumpy at me for pulling her out constantly, was incredibly loving and showed me how she was spreading love and joy through my garden.  The reflection was clear – I had been thoughtlessly pulling out the love from my garden.  She also shared with me that she was happy to be weeded out if I was going to plant something else, but otherwise ‘let me fill your spaces with love and joy’.  Now I leave her be.  She was a beautiful metaphor for me in allowing love to grow in my world.

On a grand scale, Mother Earth and all of her plants represent the feminine.  You may like to look at the way you treat the earth as a reflection of how you respect and value the feminine.

How do you go about gardening?
Are you fast and hard, all about produce?
Are you focused on what you can get from it personally? 
Or can you honour the feminine by taking time?
By deep listening and connection?
By honouring the cycles and rhythms? 
By giving back?
By considering the collective, the others involved?
Do you nurture and love your plants? 
Or do you leave them to survive and be strong? 

Western culture has become masculine dominant, focused on doing and achievement.  While there is nothing wrong with masculine energy in itself, without the feminine wisdom to balance it, it becomes destructive to the planet.  You can readdress the balance by starting with yourself.  Think Global, Act Local

Honouring rest, nurturing times, cycles, intuitive wisdom, feelings, the inner worlds, time spent just being, caring for the collective and the community, real connection in the physical world with people and nature.  These are all aspects of the feminine that you can activate, respect and expand within yourself.  What you do on the personal level, you activate in the collective. 

It is personal activism each time both men and women honour and respect the feminine within, and the external feminine –in others and in the Earth itself.

Each moment we can make a choice. 

Is what I am doing right now, whether in relation to myself, the earth and other people, is it for the benefit of all beings seen and unseen?

Heidi Wedd runs various circles and online courses in shamanic herbalism, herbal alchemy & plant spirit communication.  Author of Wild Flower Walker: A Pilgrimage to Nature on the Bibbulmun Track, she is passionate about reawakening and deepening our innate connection with Nature.  Her history is deeply embedded with plants, herbalism, homeopathy and midwifery.

[i] Tompkins, P. & Bird, C. The Secret Life of Plants, 1979. [ii] Wohlleben, P. The Hidden Life of Trees, 2016. [iii] Cernadas, J., Carroli, G., Pellegrini, L., Otano, L., Ferreira, M., & Ricci, C. (2006). The effect of timing of cord clamping on neonatal venous hematocrit values and clinical outcome at term: A randomized controlled trial. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey 61, 564–565. [iv] Megre, V.  Anastasia series, 1996, Ringing Cedars Press.

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