We all are gardeners


Have you ever wondered how much time and effort are needed to nurture a garden? (Don’t take my word for it, though. I’m not a professional gardener.)

I think it takes at least a few years or even a decade. Even then, beautiful gardens need careful maintenance. A beautiful garden won’t stay beautiful if the gardener doesn’t tend to it regularly.

Flowers will wither without attentive care, weeds will outgrow plants and vie for nutrients and sunlight, grass will be tall and unkempt, trees will find it hard to bear fruits if pests and ferns are not cleared out.

Even with attentive care, constant weeding, regular trimming and meticulous pruning, the garden still might not turn out the way the gardener wants it to be. The gardener still has to pour his or her heart into the care-taking.

Nature is as it is — ever so delicate but enchanting; complex yet simplistic in its own ways; vulnerable to the slightest change in climate while resilient and impervious even to the harshest of storms; unforgiving to the weak despite being breath-takingly charming.

Taken at Everland in Seoul, early Spring 2013

Our lives are very much like that, too. Each and every one of us has our own garden of relationships.

How beautiful our lives look depends very much on how well we take care of each relationship, very much like how beautiful a garden looks depends very much on how well the gardener takes care of each plant.


Our lives have flower-like relationships, these are pretty to look at but very much fragile on the inside.

Flowers are great additions to the garden and our lives. They are charming. But they take up a lot of energy and effort. Flowers don’t tend to last long, albeit some exceptions, of course.

Most flowers don’t serve any other purpose than making the garden look more vibrant, just like some of our superficial relationships that make us look good on the outside but drains us deep within.

We can afford more of these relationships when we’re young and when meeting people is not a problem. As we grow older, though, we will realise that flowers are not always welcome.

Like flowers, some relationships just don’t bloom even if you invest a lion’s share of your love in it.


Weeds are not the only things we need to pull out, though. Sometimes, we have to let some plants or flowers go, too. The same can be said of certain relationships in our lives.

Sometimes, we just need to let go. For a better life. For both parties involved.

I know, because I was once there. I held on too long when I should have let it go earlier.

“How would I have known?”

I don’t know for sure if I could have ended it earlier. But I regret not ending it earlier and that’s a lesson well learnt.

Be it a friendship, kinship or love relationship, all of us would have experienced it once in our lifetime.

Letting go is not to stop loving, letting go is accepting that both parties can no longer co-exist in the present and future but only in each other’s past.

Weeding out the relationships that serve no other purpose than dragging us down will only blind us from the other wonderful bonds that are truly worth our time and effort.

Weeds are easy to identify but the troublesome ones are those disguised as innocent plants.


If anything, I think trees are the most valuable plants in any garden. Why? Because trees are always giving.

Trees are arguably easy to nurture — the gardener just have to plant a sapling, make sure it grows upright by placing a stick of sorts to support it and Mother Nature will probably take care of the rest. At least, that’s what I’ve seen over the years. (Then again, don’t take my word for it, I’m not an expert gardener.)

Most importantly, trees are sturdy, resilient and (almost) imperishable.

Yes, trees are much more boring than most other plants. They take ages to grow, occupies a lot of space, requires regular pruning and clearing out of unwanted ferns.

But trees will always be there for us. Always giving us shade with their leaves, bearing fruits (not all, of course) and withstanding the harshest of weathers. They don’t need much watering — their roots reach far into the ground so they’re fine even without rainfall.

Ideally, we want a healthy number of tree-like relationships in our lives. They are the ones who will be there for us when we need them the most, regardless of rain or shine, storms or rainbows.

These relationships are deeply rooted to the ground over the years. But these are only possible if we planted the seed or sapling before if we stick it out (quite literally) and nurtured it while it was still weak and needed our support.

Taken in Seoul, early Spring 2013 (Don’t mind the bright orange pants…)

We can sit in the shade today because we planted a tree a long time ago.

Of course, we are still at the mercy of Mother Nature. But will you persevere and build the garden that you fancy?

I most certainly will.

For a garden will only be as beautiful as a gardener’s heart and the trees, flowers and grass are merely pieces of the mirror that reflect the true self of the gardener.

I want to live in a beautiful garden.

About the author

Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.


by Vance Wong


Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.