Cocoon No More: It’s Time to Get Our Hands Dirty!

By Gwenn Voelckers

We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.”

Jenny Uglow

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a rebirth of interest in all things gardening. So, let’s dig in!

As we emerge from over a year of cocooning, time spent outdoors with our flowering friends is providing a welcome respite from the feelings of isolation many of us have been experiencing. It sure has been for me.

What better time than now to reflect on the life lessons that gardening offers to those who live alone or have been sheltering in place. It has taught me the value of planning, preparation, patience, and pleasure — four essential “P’s” for a bountiful garden and … a bountiful life.

Fertile ground exists in each of us, and a little tending can produce glorious results.

Here’s what I have learned:

• Plan. Realizing the garden of your dreams begins in your imagination, followed by careful planning. Create a landscape design and diagram your garden and it will help you avoid planting bulbs on top of bulbs or mistaking a poppy for a weed. You can also seek advice from gardening experts or visit for more information on pest control and maintaining a healthy garden. There are also companies offering residential yard work and lawn maintenance services that can help you build and maintain a beautiful garden.

Likewise, envisioning your life goals and committing them to writing can help you flourish and grow.

Cultivate. Good, cultivated soil promotes healthy, deep roots. When you add fertilizer to your garden you are rewarded with abundance. Adding essential ingredients to the foundation of your dream garden (and your dream life) will nourish all that follows. 

You can’t go wrong with good, nutritious food; a walk in nature; a good book; soothing music; or saying “yes” to a new adventure that’s been tugging at your heart.   

Plant. So many choices! Revisit your plan and embed your carefully selected seeds or seedlings with a tender, loving touch, being careful not to overcrowd or plant more than you can manage. It is also important to prepare your sprinklers and garden hose to ensure your plants will get watered properly and sufficiently.

And remember: We reap what we sow, so follow your plan. Plant a rose and you get a rose; plant a dandelion and you get a dandelion. Seed your future with healthy choices that promote well-being.

Weed. We all need room to breathe and positive space in which to blossom. It holds true for your garden and your life. Gardening is all about consistent caretaking. Slack off, even for a few days, and all things unwelcome show up and take root.

Weed out the negativity and any dream-stealing toxins that contaminate your life, dash your hopes, or spoil your fun. When you pull out the bad, you can more easily focus on the good in your life.

Prune. When weeding is not enough, a major pruning may be just what the arborist ordered. A job, relationship or home that no longer satisfies or meets your needs may need a hard look. It may be time to pull out that pair of “life loppers.”

Mulch. Mulching keeps weeds at bay and the ground moist, and returns nutrients to the soil. It also adds a finishing touch.

Mulch offers a blanket of protection, in the same way that regular doctor appointments, insurances, and safety measures protect our lives. We can learn a lot from mulching.     

Wait. We’ve all heard that “good things come to those who wait.” When we exercise patience, go slowly, and enjoy the gradual unfolding of a flower, an idea, or a friendship, your life can be savored and more deeply appreciated.

Each year, I look to my garden to remind me that growth takes time.

Enjoy. Before you know it, your labor of love and patience will pay off. Take pleasure in the transformation as the colors, textures, and fragrances emerge. Too often, we fail to “stop and smell the roses” in our gardens and in our lives.

By osmosis, gardening has taught me how to take better care of myself. I have absorbed its rich messages and learned how to nurture my inner garden and growth as a woman on her own.

I encourage you to grab a spade and join me. Beauty, growth, and an energizing sense of renewal can be yours this month.

It’s June and time to get our hands dirty!

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content, empowerment workshops for women and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone, see here now for more information about her workshops, to purchase her book, or invite Voelckers to speak, visit