Plant Whatever Brings You Joy

Blessed Wisdom from the Garden

Non-Fiction - Inspirational
228 Pages
Reviewed on 09/13/2016
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite

“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully,” 2 Corinthians 9:6. As you read this passage, look at it as the prelude to Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom From the Garden by Kathryn Hall. Kathryn will take you on a journey with her by providing fifty-two beautiful stories about how the seeds that she has planted, or those that were planted in her life, set her on a pathway to growth and discovery. “Plant whatever gives you joy. Resist the temptation to plant more than you can care for.” Instead of going wide, go down by “deeply tilling the hardened ground,” says Kathryn. In Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom From the Garden by Kathryn Hall we are reminded that all that we are and everything we do are the results of planted and watered seeds.

I enjoyed the essence of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy because Kathryn reminded me that our seeds are also connected to karma. Kathryn tells stories about going to Chicago as a teacher in an urban neighborhood, fresh out of college, and the effects of not having her father close to her and protecting her as she grew up, to her transition to moving and embracing gardening once her child went away to college. These were all of the seeds that positioned her to not only the life that she is now living, but to authoring Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom From the Garden. If you want some inspiration on the seeds you are planting, pick up Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom From the Garden by Kathryn Hall.

Allyson Szabo

While this book is easy to read, with personal stories and anecdotes, it takes a long time to digest. Each of the 52 chapters contains a short story and a bit of insight from the author's life, paired with garden practices. It is the type of book which lends itself to bathtub reading and late night sifting for gems of wisdom.

An example that truly touched me was in Chapter 39: Test and amend your soil. Ms. Hall says, "Yet how aware are we of our core beliefs and the very thoughts we feed ourselves on a daily basis that are determining the culture in which we live and grow?" This is one of those statements which is so true that it almost slaps you in the face. Our culture, our religion, our faith communities, our families all help amend the soil in which our soul grows. Ms. Hall asks us to take the time to evaluate just what we're putting into that metaphorical soil, and to use that knowledge to help determine whether we need to add more to it or if we're over-doing it.

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is a meaty book, one that asks you to evaluate yourself over and over again. In a later chapter, Trim unwieldy branches, the reader is asked to examine her life and wonder where all the time and energy goes. Ms. Hall points out that the myriad of undone things each day saps our energy and steals our time from us. By putting ourselves in order, like trimming the unneeded branches from a sprawling tree or grape arbor, we make more time. There is less confusion, more understanding of where our energies need to be flowing. There are less dead ends, so to speak.

Each life lesson is matched to a gardening metaphor which helps highlight the important parts and illustrate what needs to be done. Whether she's raving over her gardeners and the lessons she learned from them, or laughing with you about the number of birds she ended up owning at one point in her life, Ms. Hall brings a comfortable humor to the situation. When she likens problems to weeds or blessings to fruits from the cultivated portions of the garden, she gives the reader something to grasp, to hold onto while trying to understand some very deep issues.

Ms. Hall's book is truly fascinating. It keeps the reader engaged, and leaves you with a string of deep thoughts to mull over late at night. Being able to turn to the garden for spiritual ideas is a great thing, and Kathryn Hall does an excellent job in drawing it out clearly for everyone. I'm so glad I was able to purchase it, read it, and enjoy it. As a minister, I fully intend to use some of the wisdom gems within for sermon seeds!

Will Schneider

What an elegantly-crafted read this is! I thought it was going to help me get into gardening, as I finally have the space to start some planting. Yes, it was a great guide for that. But to my surprise, this book is a beautiful source of wisdom for life, itself. Each chapter is a corresponding metaphor to achieve a nurturing balance in one’s own inner world; lovingly tending to the soul as one would care for the garden. Very cool...

Maloah Stillwater

This book is a Treasure! Filled with deep, insightful and often funny stories of gardening and of life, Kathryn gives voice to many of life's lessons with a kind heart, wise mind and a great sense of humor. She skillfully weaves her experiences into metaphores for this path of life we all share- embracing it, nurturing our hearts in the process, and blessing us with wisdom.

I am giving this book to my friends who are gardeners as well as to those who don't plant a thing! The spirit of this book is about living an authentic life, being true to yourself, and planting whatever brings you joy, whether it is in your own psyche and how you live your life, or what you plant in our beautiful earth. Gardeners will take special pleasure in her stories, as many are familiar. And for each person who enters the world of this book, there is poetry, beauty, and a gift to treasure. Enjoy!

Fran Sorin

Plant What Brings You Joy is a book that you can't put down once you start reading it. The author, Kathryn Hall, does a masterful job of intertwining autobiographical vignettes with life lessons learned in the garden. Her message is simple and profound ~ live your life with passion and joy. This inspirational book will touch your heart and open you up to the possibilities of living a rich and authentic life. Fran Sorin, Author and CBS Radio News Garden Contributor

Molly Jackson

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it imparts life lessons through gardening metaphors which are really "oh so" insightful. A great gift book for readers of all ages.You glean a precious and salient kernel about life in each chapter and is terrific for even non gardener. I wish Ms. Hall had written this 30 years ago.This is timeless treasure.228 pages an non stop read!

Helen Yoest

Like-minded thinkers tend to gravitate everywhere in life; we have a gift for finding each other in coffee shops, similar markets and meetings, the same concerts or museum exhibits, and garden and book clubs.

During the past eight years, my life experiences have expanded an infinite fold through the internet. One of those wonderful people that came into my life is Kathryn Hall.

Kathryn is a book publicist by day and inspirational writer with her blog, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy by night. No doubt, Kathryn’s mind is always looking at everyday events so she can use them as her muse for positive thinking. Now, Kathryn has life lessons in a book of the same title.

What’s interesting to me about Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, is that on the surface, her book appears to be a memoir with garden tie-ins. Yet, I could see myself in all her examples of life experiences. It’s easy to get drawn in to reading the eloquent prose and seeing one’s self in each of the pages turned.

Plant Whatever Gives You Joy is a beautifully written book that will have you reflecting on your own life and feeling good and inspired to start a new day.

I highly recommend reading Plant Whatever Gives You Joy!

Nancy Wallace

This book was given to me as a gift, and what a GIFT it is. Kathryn guides the reader through her garden journal in a personal and thoughtful way. By the time I arrived at the chapter, Share Generously Your Bounty, my kinship with Kathryn was confirmed: a recognition of that joyous charisma between author and reader. And for the remainder of that literary journey, our friendship grew from page to page, bloom to bloom.

Philip Bewley

About a year ago we moved from a large city flat to a small country cottage. I had a vast collection of books that I loved that I had collected over a lifetime. I could only bring a small selection of my books with me to our new home. “Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden” by Kathryn Hall is one of the handful of books I brought with me to begin our new life in our new home. It is truly my “desert island” book. This is a book I have read so many time I have lost count. The chapters are not long, and you can turn to any one of them for inspiration and for the pure pleasure of reading.
This is an excellent book to have by the bedside to read before you go to sleep at night. I have this book right now beside me on a table in my office. I will often turn to it during a break while working to breathe, to appreciate things, to remind myself of what I do best. It is the perfect choice to give a special friend or loved one as a gift. It is an outstanding choice for a book club as there are so many ideas inside this book to discuss and savor. And savor is a good word, because this is also a beautifully written book for those who appreciate exceptional writing. The chapters are captivating, and I am immediately drawn into them.
I have also been profoundly moved by the wisdom inside this book, and it has changed my life in many positive ways.
I love this book.

Mary Jansch

This is not a “how-to” gardening book but, rather, a book of observations about life gathered from the garden. Skeptical at first, I was stunned to discover Hall’s lessons learned in the garden echo my own thoughts. It was startling, as if our minds are of one. I imagine it will seem so for most readers who put their hands in the soil or tromp through the woods.

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy has 258 pages with 52 chapters. Hall skillfully writes with the style of ladies who lunch. Her writing is a joy to read: elegant, fun, and definitely unique. Each short chapter contains a vignette of Hall tending the garden or other adventure: giving birth in Mexico City, gardening in Holland with her daughter, gardening on the edge of woodland in northern California and North Carolina or tangling with critters wild and tame. She adds a lesson learned, tells how it applies to her life through personal story, offers wisdom and sometimes step-by-step advice, and gives the reader homework by ending with a question. No wasted words here.

In “Gently Guide the Tender Vine Lest It Become Wild, Tangled and Impossible,” Hall compares curbing wanton vines with redirecting and untangling the messes, physical or otherwise, one encounters in life. She describes sure-fire ways to assess a situation and asks, “What are the wild, tangled and impossible tasks and challenges in your life? What do you need to do to resolve them?” Her sincerity and comforting style makes you want to honestly think and answer.

Hall began developing her awareness of self in nature while growing up in two households among the orange groves of Southern California and, later, while experiencing the gardens and ideas of different cultures by living a nomadic life. She avoids “staying in the box.”

“I think there’s a distinct advantage of being exposed to change and difference from the outset and a price to pay for just accepting the status quo and living a 'normal life' and not exploring. People in America are at a disadvantage because you have to really stretch yourself to be exposed to other cultures,” she says.

Hall looks at being aware of her emotions and thoughts as a discipline. “I try to get people to think of their thoughts as the ‘crawl at the bottom of CNN.’ People just let their thoughts run wild and don’t even know.” These things, she thinks, allows receptivity of the larger flow of thoughts from the garden and nature to other areas of one’s life.

In “When Pulling Up Weeds Get the Root,” she decries the fast fix of popping pills for every ailment large or small instead of getting to the bottom of things. Again, facing the truth, drumming up courage and moving forward. Would not we all remove the roots of distress in our own gardens?

A Few Hall-isms:
-Ask yourself: How awake are you?
-What do you have to do to wake yourself up?
-If you’re going with the flow, then you haven’t done anything to wake yourself up.
-Pay attention.
-Look everything up.
-Develop your curiosity. Try new things and experiment.
-In the garden you feel you’re part of nature to some extent but you have to delve.
-The only way to know a plant is to work with it.

Buy this book now. It’s a great read to finish just in time to make your New Year’s resolutions and a great holiday gift.
Mary Jasch, DIG IT! Magazine