By the time I was twelve, the tiny gardens in front of the attached brick houses in my Brooklyn neighborhood had become slabs of concrete. In the succession of city apartments I lived in as an adult, most of the house plants I dabbled with withered within days or weeks. So, when I moved to a house on the South Fork of Long Island and was confronted with a half-acre of scrub oak and patchy lawn, I was overwhelmed. How could I possibly transform this chaos into a garden? I clearly lacked a green thumb. But passion and determination won out over inexperience, and over a period of years a garden did appear.
As my garden matured, so did I. I planted my first lilac bush eight years before I began my Zen practice. I woke up to discover that Buddhist teachings had been growing all around me.