Really, I am looking over my friend's incredibly overgrown garden with a shovel in my hand. Even though I don't have a third eye, four arms, or blue skin, I still feel like I am Shiva. He must be the God of gardeners everywhere because of his fascinating duality.
Shiva is a third of the Hindu trinity: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer, an Eastern representation of the circle of life. Although destruction sounds menacing, it is a vital component in nature. How can you create more if there is no room left? Shiva's job is to clean the cosmic house when necessary, to break it down so it can be rebuilt. This is reflected in all kinds of ways big and small, the rotting log being reabsorbed into the earth, a star exploding and scattering cosmic dust that will condense into a new celestial body.
My friend's garden has become terribly over grown in the last ten years. The bearded iris and day lilies are packed so tightly they have stopped blooming. Thistles are waist high and the butter fly gaura and Russian sage are huddled against the sidewalk trying to escape the crowded bed. This is where Shiva comes in. Revitalizing this garden is not a delicate process. Everything must be dug out of the bed, divided, and replanted. Nothing can be spared the violence, even the guara and sage she loves so much. They are simply in the wrong place, victims of neglect, innocently wandering to the edge of the bed and blocking the sidewalk. I'll mark them so I can find them in the Spring and and move them while they are still dormant. But there are no guarantees, they might die. This is the price of renewal.
The uprooting destruction continues unabated as I move from one side of the bed to the other. I dig out huge clumps of day lilies, hostas, and iris. I literally rip them apart at the roots. By damaging the roots, these types of plants are stimulated to grow and flower more. I have so many pieces that I have started planting them around trees and in other beds. Out of the chaos and then destruction of a flower bed over grown and choked with weeds, new gardens and flowers will take root and bloom. Shiva has done his job, laying waste to the old so that the new can grow and flourish.