Episode 120

Nurture Your Land (and Yourself) with Mary Reynolds

April 18, 2017

Happy Earth Week, bosses! You know we love to get connected with nature, and part of a truly boss life is taking care of our environment in every way you can. We’ve got Mary Reynolds with us today, author of The Garden Awakening, to talk to us about connecting with the earth and what we can do to care for our land before it’s too late.

This Episode Brought to You By:
"As you work to heal your land, you will find that you will restore yourself."
- Mary Reynolds

Discussed in this Episode

  • How Mary made her break in garden design
  • Making a difference in our environment
  • Finding the courage and trusting yourself to take your skills in an unusual direction
  • Connecting and communing with nature
  • Simple ways you can heal the earth


More from Mary Reynolds

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Braid Creative

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Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:01
Hello and welcome to being boss,

Emily Thompson 0:04
a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 0:07
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Mary Reynolds 0:10
I am Mary Reynolds and I am being boss. Mary Reynolds

Kathleen Shannon 0:17
grew up in rural Ireland on a small farm youngest of six children. She has a degree in landscape horticulture from University College Dublin and started her garden design company in 1997. She has designed private gardens designed gardens for garden makeover shows, and won the gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002. She caught our eye with her book the garden awakening, a garden design book that draws inspiration from long forgotten Irish ways of working with the land. Today we're talking with Mary about her journey as an entrepreneur and how working with the land can heal your connection with the earth and yourself. And as always, be sure to check out our show notes at WWW dot being boss club where we're including all the links and references that we mentioned in today's episode. All right, you guys imagine this you're racing against the clock to wrap up three projects. You're prepping for a meeting later in the afternoon, all while trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork. Welcome to life as a freelancer, small business owner, Boss who's wearing all the hats challenging, yes, but our friends at freshbooks believe the rewards are worth it. the working world has changed with the growth of the internet, there's never been more opportunities for the self employed. So to meet this need, freshbooks is excited to announce the launch of an all new version of their cloud accounting software. It's been redesigned from the ground up and custom built for exactly the way you work. Get ready for the simplest way to be more productive, organized, and most importantly, get paid quickly. The all new fresh books is not only ridiculously easy to use, it's packed full of powerful features, you can create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds, you can set up online payments and with just a couple of clicks get paid up to 40 faster. And you can see when your client has seen your invoice putting an end to all the guessing games freshbooks is offering a 30 day unrestricted free trial to our listeners to claim it. Just go to freshbooks comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section.

Mary, thank you so much for joining us. We're so excited to have you on the show today.

Unknown Speaker 2:31
lovely to be here, lady. Thank you very much for having me.

Kathleen Shannon 2:34
So let's start a little bit. Emily, I would love actually for you to talk about finding Mary and reading her books and having to have her on the show.

Emily Thompson 2:43
I know because I feel like it was a little bit of magic. I was just talking to Mary about it. She asked me how I ran across her book. And Lily and I were hanging out and a part of Chattanooga a couple of weeks ago, and I wandered into this bookstore. It was about the time that David and I got our backyard fenced in, we built like an eight foot wall, basically, around our backyard, in the middle of Chattanooga, and Lily and I wandered into this bookstore that we had never been before locally owned store. And downstairs there was this beautiful book on a bookshelf and it was beautiful green with this wonderful like motif on the front of it. And it's called the garden awakening and Lily was there so I couldn't, couldn't like take a moment to look at it. So I just snapped a photo of the book with my phone and wandered off and kind of forgot about the book for a couple of days until David started talking about what we were going to be doing in our backyard. And I remembered that I had found this beautiful book called The garden awakening. And it sounded so magical and right up my alley like and I don't I didn't know anything about the book. But I knew that this book was the book that I needed to get. And so I got on Amazon and ordered the book and I got here two days later. Thank you amazon prime. And I read the whole book over the course of the weekend. I could not put it down I sat on my front porch. It was like our first nice spring day, spring like day, fake spring in the south. And I sat on the front porch and read this book over the course of two or three days and absolutely loved it. It was such a great mix of super practical land planning. So like what plants are you going to plant and making sure that you know your contours so you can gauge like water drainage and those sorts of things, but also quite a bit of magic, which I didn't really anticipate and this idea of, of letting your intentions seep into the land and allowing you healing your land to heal yourself. And it was an amazing book. And as soon as I read the book, I got on to slack and I told Kathleen we have to have Mary on immediately because not only does she share her really her really boss entrepreneurial journey of having this day job Going to something more creative and sort of off the wall and unexpected and making a name for herself doing it. But because it's Earth week, and I like to share supergreen things during during this time of the year especially. So that's kind of how I found Mary and her really wonderful book that, I think, if nothing else will absolutely change your backyard. David ended up reading the book. And I was telling Mary a second ago, he's been spending the past couple of days mapping out contours in our backyard with his little geographer hat on because Mary didn't tell you, David and I also have we both have degrees in geography. And David's is specifically in or he studied specifically dendro ecology. So tree ring science, so totally right up our alleys. We love it. And I'm so excited to have you on. Thank you.

Kathleen Shannon 5:55
It's so funny. Emily was like, you've got to read this book. I totally thought the garden awakening was a metaphor. And so I started digging into the book. And I'm like, Oh, no, this is like really about gardening. But it still is you can also actually really see the metaphors in there as well. And I'm not quite through. But Mary, let's jump in with you. I would love for you to share your entrepreneurial journey. Like how did you get to where you are now? And where are you now? Like what's happening in your life?

Mary Reynolds 6:24
Yeah, it was, it was, it was a bumpy ride to get where I am. But that's always the best ways of getting somewhere, isn't it? As long as you don't go down the same path again, on those same bumps, you're doing really well. But um, you know what happened? I, I didn't really have any idea what I wanted to do. Like most people don't know what they want to do with their lives when they're young. And they left college and I went to do languages and marketing. Absolutely no interest. And I dropped out almost immediately, within three months, I left college. And I went to Dublin, where is the biggest issue here. And I started a very promising career in cardboard box making factory on minimum wage. And six months into that my my parents, I grew up on a farm and Ireland, southeast of Ireland. And as the youngest of six children. My parents were very, very intense that everyone got a really good education. So they were horrified that their youngest son ended up in this situation. And they were very, very focused on getting me out of this. And I fell, I kind of fell after much pressure into going okay, I'll go back to college, you know, fine, like, not occurring to me that this was a good thing to do. And, and I had no idea what to do. But I fancied this guy who was studying landscape design in University College, Dublin. So I said, Look, I'll do that, that's looks like that looks like something. So I ended up going there. After about two weeks, I realized there was no nothing there between me and him. But I didn't know what else to do. So I kept going and turns out it was really good at it. I really am a good designer, I'm just naturally good at design. And I ended up setting up my own business immediately. I've never had a real job.

Unknown Speaker 8:28

Mary Reynolds 8:30
after a few years, I kind of you know, I did loads of TV makeovers and stuff like that. And that was really good at it like but I didn't enjoy it. I didn't understand what was the point of it all. And I realized that basically, I was losing the will to live, you know, this was not fulfilling my true self in any way. So luckily, I, I've always had these dreams throughout my life that kind of guide me a little bit. So I had this dream, which made me realize there was something wrong with the way we were working with land and the way I was working with land specifically. And it was kind of like a two phased process my understanding of land now I hadn't reached at this particular point I'm referring to but back then I realized that nature and gardens have become two very separate entities, even though people presume that they're very much connected. They're not, you know, can gardening, no matter what people say, gardeners, even though they have this real need to connect to nature, and they generally tend to have a lovely gentleness about them. Yes, gardening, which is what really is all that is on offer is a very controlling thing. And it's very detrimental to nature generally, depending on how people go about it. But it's not allowing. I don't know it's not allowing nature to shine. And at that point. All that I understood was that Nature and gardening were different. So I decided to bring my ideas to the Chelsea Flower Show in London, which is this very big worldwide kind of showcase competition. I basically lied my way into the competition because they didn't want me to go there, you know. So I rang up the Royal Horticultural Society one day because none of my clients would let me do a whale garden because they are. I wasn't good at bossing people around. Okay, as a designer, I kind of hoped that they would go along, but I didn't, you know, so the idea of having weeds in their garden just wasn't going to appeal to anybody, obviously. So I rang up the Royal Horticultural Society. And I said, Hi, how's it gone? Would you send me an application form with Chelsea Flower Show? Because I have ideas I want to showcase there. And they said, Listen, love. We've never heard of you. You sound very young and very naive. So just go away. Like, you know, God loves you like where did what Where do you think you're going? At that point, it was very difficult to get into the Chelsea Flower. She was a very closed shop. It's changed since now. Anybody can really get in. I think I kind of broke the barrier there little, which was really good. So I badgered them and badgered them and I kept ringing back. And I said, Listen, this or any chance, you'd give me an application form. And every time they spoke to said, Yes, sure, we'll send you an hour, just to get rid of me. Don't worry, we'll send you one. But one afternoon in August, I got a hold of a secretary. And she said, Sorry, love, those were sent out those those forms were sent at eight weeks ago. And they're due back in this weekend. And this was the Thursday morning. And I was really devastated. And I said, I told her what had happened. And she said, Look, she felt sorry for me, she said, I'll fax you through the application forms, but you need to have the full sponsorship in place, and the full set of design drawings here before the weekend. So I forged the sponsorship documents from an obscure company in Beirut that I figured nobody could trace. And I did the designs really quickly. And I rolled everything up. I laminated everything, and I rolled it all up with bunches of meant bunches of wild meant because every plant has its own intention, and meant I figured that I was going to really have to break through all these kind of preconceived negative ideas. And that was that's what Mint is about is one of one of them. That means it can break through those kind of barriers. So when they opened these rolls of drawings from Ireland, this meant would have exploded all over the table. I can't even imagine what they thought. But they had they thought he had, you know, quarter million money, they're ready to go. So they thought it was fine. And then in and that's fine. That's what I did. And then I and then I fell in love with someone. And I chased him to Ethiopia. And instead of trying to raise the money for the garden, I was chasing some man around Ethiopia. And the Chelsea, Florida, we're setting up this incredible. You know, they everyone was excited. It was an Irish garden designer in there. And they had written up all their pamphlets and their catalogs, and there was me and my garden, but I didn't have the money. So it was really interesting. Actually, they've made a movie about this, which is coming out in America this year, sometimes. It's a beautiful film called dare to be wild. But the funny thing about it was that I had written on the fridge. Thank you for my full sponsorship and gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. And I said it over and over again until I believed it had already happened. And then I didn't really have to do anything. Everything just fell into place for me. And

I, I think I had read some book like Deepak Chopra, seven spiritual laws of success or something, and I and it said that if you do this, it would work. And I realized since what that's all about, and I've delved into the Irish versions of all those understandings and everything. But um, so yeah, I wrote this on the fridge and I said it every day. And then this is the most incredible thing happened. This guy was building a hospice in Dublin. And the concept from my garden, I had my concepts are very poetically worded, you know, the garden was a sanctuary, it was called Chairman xi, which means sanctuary fairies, we had to call it the Celtic sanctuary or something it further or HS but the garden was very, very simple. It was very beautiful. It was just stones and wild flowers, you know. And this concept for the garden was very specific. And eventually I had to go public about the fact that I had no money in the Irish newspapers hoping that somebody was going to give me the money. And then I went to Ethiopia for more important things. And then I came home and there was a check in the door for every everything. I mean, I had 14 different sponsors in the end, and they all just arrived. It was amazing. But the money I had been missing. And so basically, the concept was exactly the same wording. As a brief he had given to an art gallery to find a piece of sculpture for this hospice he was building. So he saw it as a sign. And so he paid for the garden to go to London. And then he had it rebuilt in the hospice as his piece of sculpture. So it was amazing story.

Emily Thompson 15:35
Wow. And so what what happened at the at the show, though?

Mary Reynolds 15:40
Well, not to show it well, it's you'll have to watch the movie. We'll do wonderful. It really was an amazing story, the whole thing looking back on it. I mean, it was extremely wonderful. And I dropped my earpiece sorry, so many wonderful things happened. Basically, the garden won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. And Prince Charles had a garden beside us. And we'd like some of the craziest things happened at that show. You wouldn't believe the stories like there's just what's so funny the whole thing. But we we were quite naive, like we you know, it worked well. But what it did was it launched me into the world as a as an international designer, and set me up kind of doing designs everywhere that were wild. But yet again, I went on with my life like that, I fell out of love with the gorgeous man, and fell in love with somebody else had children. But I kept going along doing my designs, I ended up being a single mom very quickly. And I've been a single mom now for over 10 years. And I like being alone, it suits me, gives me a lot of time to do things like write books in the evening. So when the kids were asleep, I started thinking about my work. And I knew this film was coming out. And they had suggested I write a book to come out with the film. So I started writing the story that I just told you, but I didn't want to write it anymore. I mean, I'd already told the screenwriter the story. And it was very, you know, I'd said it too often. I didn't want to bore myself again, by writing it down in detail Do you know, so I decided to write about my work. And interestingly, I wrote myself out of a job very quickly. Yeah, because I realized that although although all the gardens I had been working with that I have worked with and designed that they were all very beautiful. And they had to been designed in harmony with the shapes and patterns of nature. And they didn't block the flow of energy in their spaces. And they were wild, but I was still controlling them. I wasn't allowing the land to become what it wanted to become. Therefore I was failing. And I couldn't figure out how to do what I was doing, and the lay of the land to become what it wanted. And so I had to stop, they stopped. And I researched and I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. And what I've done is I've completely turned the whole thing upside down. And all the knowledge that I have isn't new knowledge, this is all old knowledge is just stuff that we forgotten. And the most important piece of that knowledge is one that a lot of people say these days, but I hadn't realized it. That is that we are guardians of this earth, and it's our role to take care of this planet. And instead of taking care of it, we're destroying it. And gardeners are not embracing nature and nurturing it, we're controlling it, and we're deciding what it wants to become. So we are treating our land like like like a child, okay. And the child, you know, can get into a pink tutu when we tell it to. And they can sit in the garden and look really pretty when the neighbors call around and do exactly what we tell it to. But if it grows, or changes are moves, which can't help do because that's his true nature, it will become a teenager it grows it can't help it will punish it and tell it to get back into that pink tutu. And don't you dare move you know, with spray it and tell it. This is what happens to you if you don't do what I tell you. The land wants to become

a state stable, multi tiered ecosystem. That's what it wants. And when it's there, it's healthy. And it's full of life. And that's, that's a really important thing that we can do in this world. If we can see, all of us who are aware of what's going wrong in the world, all of us are going oh my god, how how can we as individuals do anything? And the protests, although they're good, it's most of us feel Very powerless with these protests mean, like we have no leaders anymore, there is no leadership in this world. They're just all corrupt. Basically, leading the multinationals. There, they're lining their own pockets, they're lining the pockets of their friends, they are destroying the vulnerable in our societies, they're destroying our land, or water or air, our home. And the only way we can fix this is to take back our power from these absolute dark idiots. And, as people as individuals, what we can do is take the little pieces of land that we are lucky enough to call our own, and we can bring them back to full health. And if enough of us do this, if enough of us take this on, we can connect all those little patches, and we can step out of the system, that is the multinational poisonous industrial farming system, we can grow our own food, that will affect them, if we stop buying their food that will affect them. And we can grow food in a way that actually allows the land to become what it wants to become. And that's what my book is about. And trying to get this into people's heads that this is the most powerful thing you can do. This is the most powerful thing you can do. And the key. And the magic behind it is really interesting. And that magic is that as you work to heal your land, you will find you have all those things that the land itself needs, you will restore that within yourself. And it's just a wonderful journey that isn't a fast one takes time, you know, building a relationship with your land, basically, it's like a child, you're like you're raising a child, it doesn't you can't do it overnight.

Emily Thompson 21:42
I love that. And I love that whenever you talk about writing yourself out of a job, I can tell for you For you, it seems like more of a necessity than keeping the job to yourself. I mean, for example, if you hadn't, I would never have found your book, you wouldn't be here and David wouldn't be at putting little flags in our backyard right now. And, and I was thinking about how it is that we can heal our little patch of land. So I love this idea that, that you followed this calling to do something different with you know, this education that you had it was landscape design, and turning it into you like your version of landscape design and really infusing yourself into it wholeheartedly and then turning that into something that can be shared and accomplished. For anyone. I think that's such a powerful place. But I have to wonder, I have to wonder how you felt along the way. So sort of breaking these molds every step of the way. And even doing so and in funny ways. Which I love it admire, like what were some of those feelings that you went through as

Kathleen Shannon 22:56
you made those transitions, and stepped into doing things that other people weren't doing? And I think along with the feelings, I'm super curious about trusting these feelings that you were having, like how did you know to trust that you need to shift direction or write yourself out of out of a job


I'm really curious about that, too.

Mary Reynolds 23:19
So I have a very strong connection with nature. And I never had that same connection with people. And I'll tell you how that happened. And that will explain why I was driven to do what I was driven because I say it in the front of my book, my tanks goes to my green family, really the green family being nature, she know. Because when I was young girl was about six, don't really remember I was five, six or seven in around there. And I wandered off on the farm because the land was very, was we get a lot of freedom when we were young. And the land was very different before the Green Revolution hadn't really kicked in, in Ireland, you know, the industrial farming thing hadn't kicked in yet. And it was, I guess it was the late 70s or just the beginning of the 80s you know, and I wandered off on the farm. And it was full of life, you know that the Earth was full of life. It was everywhere. And we wandered into this little field at the top of our farm. And I'll never forget it. It was a very vivid memory that I have and it might sound a bit mad, but for me it was very real. So I wandered into the vironment into into this gap in the head and then I knew something had changed. I looked behind me and the gap in the head had completely disappeared. So all of the head of the shrubs and trees had moved together are there you know, I couldn't understand what it happened as a little girl, it was very frightening. There was the gap was gone. I was trapped in the field, and I walked around the field and I I could not find my way I wish there was no way out. And I was really frightened. And I know it was me because there was a really strong sense of Hawthorne, which is a very particular matter which I love. And there was no way I should I was calling, but I was too far away, obviously from people. And there was neighbor's another field away, but nobody heard me. And I was really frightened. And eventually, I got distracted by the sunshine and the fact that the flowers and the meadows and the butterflies and I sat down, and it was warm. And I stopped being frightened. And I started noticing where I was and what was going on. And I suddenly recognized that all these plants and creatures, they were like, they were, what's the word they were, they were almost leaning in, looking for my attention. And they were all kind of shimmering. And, you know, there was, there was this real powerful kind of awareness for me to these creatures. And they were wonderful. And each of them had a different personality. Some of them were scared, you know, a little bit nervous of me. Some of them were friendly. Some of them were really, you know, over the top kind of bossy. They were really powerful individual creatures, like I was what I was interested in, why were they interested in why did the Why did they want me to notice them. And I couldn't understand that, like, I did look into it, I did didn't figure it out for a long time. Anyway, eventually, what happened was one of the neighbors did hear me and shouted, came across the field and shouted over into the field I was in, and I looked around, and the gap was open. And I went home, I didn't

Unknown Speaker 26:49
talk about it.

Mary Reynolds 26:52
You know, my parents were farmers full time, they bought had full time jobs that were very busy, you know. And I didn't really have connections with people because I was very much a loner. And so I made my connections with nature, I did tell my dad about that field, when I was about 18. And he said, the same thing had happened to his grandfather in that field. And it was no one like it was normally locally as a very field, you go in and you can't connection, this is one of the things that nourish lower, you do come across. But what I recognized long time later, was that that land, and those plants that they were part of my family, and I was part of their family. And that's when it all fell into place for me for writing this book. My role was to protect my family. And that's what I do. So when I have those feelings that you talk about, when I go through all this stuff, I forget about it a lot. I forget about nature, I forgot about nature when I was a teenager and stuff and has gone mad on whatever, you know, people do when they're teenagers. And but it was only I came back to it because it was the only place I ever felt safe was in nature. And so even though some of the things I was saying were laughed at and still are, do you know, particularly in Ireland, people don't necessarily understand what I'm saying. But underneath it all they do. And even though they might be brave enough to say to their friends, they're brave enough to save say to me, that's it, that it means a lot to them. And from all over the world, people contact me saying how this stuff is real. It's true. It's exactly what it spoke to them. But it's not it's not my stuff. This is all in every culture. This is their this is this is who we are. And I'm trying to adapt it for our society now is how to work with land. You know, we don't live we're not indigenous people living in the woods, you know, so how do he, how do we bring those rolls back in suburbia, or in, you know, urban, tiny little gardens or in parks or in community gardens. So that's, that was the kind of difficult puzzle I have to face. So that's what the book came from.

Kathleen Shannon 29:28
I love that story so much. Whenever I was a kid, we had some woods near our house and I remember there was a big Creek and these this tree that had exposed roots down into the creek and I always felt like there was something so magical about this space and that tree specifically and just feeling so comforted. I mean I could spend all day up in a mulberry tree eating mulberries and now going back to that land, it's all been fully developed. There are houses in where those woods were at I remember as a kid feeling so protective of those woods, me and my friends, were always talking about raising money to buy that land and make sure it was never developed. And it feels so naive. But now also talking to you, it feels very real and very important and thinking about the world that we're raising our kids in now, do they have those fields? Do they have those woods? And what do we have now? And so talking about really owning our own space of land, I think is super powerful and not kind of abusing it into submission. I mean, I'm even thinking just last week, I sprayed my lawn, because it's what you do, right? And it's so easy to just fall into that norm. But as you're telling all these stories, though, the one that you just shared, and then and then really owning our own land, I keep thinking about my grandpa, and how, back in the depression, people were encouraged to build their own Victory Gardens. That's what they called them, right? Victory Gardens. And it was really about that little bit of ownership and kind of, again, what's the word for taking it back from the government? I'm not so what's the word, some cursive, like, you know, like this act of almost anarchy, or this act of rebellion? That's what it is this act of rebellion to have your own little Victory Garden, but not just rebellion, this collaboration and contribution to your family to your community? So how do we actually go about doing this? Like, how do we muster up the courage to get started?

Mary Reynolds 31:39
Okay, well, what was the recent really a choice, we don't have a choice. Anybody who is aware of how close we are to ecosystem collapse realizes we don't have a choice. And if you look at the food we're eating, you will realize that it's very, very deep done damaging to your body, like 72%, your body is made of water, approximately 72% of the Earth is covered in water, the food you eat should be at least 72%. Water. If it's not there, it's not going to be good for you. So most of the food that we eat is processed, it's it's grown with chemicals. It's extremely damaging. And we're losing our bees. If we lose our bees, we only have four years left on this planet, because there'll be no more pollination for food, they're almost wiped out. People don't realize how close we are to the edge. So the only way we are going to survive, is by taking the power away from those people who call themselves our leaders, and stepping into our power again, and actually being anarchists in a very gentle way. And by growing our own food, and allowing the land to become a multi tiered woodland system, you can grow food in a very different way called forest gardening. And it's by growing food on several different layers. And you can do it you can grow a vast amount of food in a small space. And most of our food is basically it's killing everybody, it's giving everybody cancer, our water is poisoned. By the way we are growing our food. We've lost 70% of the topsoil in the world in the last 50 years. 70% of our topsoil being washed away, in that short amount of time is catastrophic. That means that we only have According to the UN, they announced in 2012, that we have 60 harvests left in the world. And that was in 2012. And that us two harvests a year in 2012. That means we are very much running out of time. And when the topsoil is gone, when it's washed into all our streams, and washed into the seas, there will be nothing to grow our food anymore. And this might look very difficult for people to understand when it still looks kind of lush, but industrial farming is destroying is destroying the planet. And we need to return to agroforestry small scale community gardening and small scale farming. And it's just it's not going to happen unless people stop paying those people for the poisonous foods that we're eating. The only way they're going to change is if we stop giving them money for what they're producing.

Kathleen Shannon 34:19
Amen. Right.

Emily Thompson 34:22
So um, I want to talk about this top soil thing a little bit because this is something this is like the first thing that David dove into whenever he started planning out our backyard and that is like fungus and mycelium and magnificent book that David has like poured over mycelium running which is one of the books that you reference in your in your book. So maybe we can talk about fungus for a second.

Mary Reynolds 34:50
Sure, it's one of my favorite subjects. Right so so

Emily Thompson 34:55
let's talk about like this idea of dirt and topsoil and dirt. dirt and topsoil are not the same thing. So if you have a patch of land, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's okay or that it will produce food. And one of the ways that you can take your dirt and turn it into soil is by reintroducing fungus to the soil that can break down the plant matter and whatever else you got going on in there, and and re enrich your soil. So maybe we can talk a little bit about I feel like that's a really great like introductory to healing your yard first sort of basic steps, am I right?

Mary Reynolds 35:37
Yeah, I mean, like, it's the first practical step is to just to understand that you should never, you should never dig your soil over, you should never expose it to the air, it's like ripping the skin off your arm. And your body, which is like the earth will immediately activate it's very intelligent system of scabbing over the cut of the skin by activating the weed seed bank in the soil. So the seeds might need 31/30 of a second of light exposure to activate, activate them, that's all they need. So the second that that's activated, the Earth is going oh my god send up a scab get covered this over because if you don't, if the x overexposure to oxygen will kill all the micro life in the soil eventually linked to different processes. Too much oxygen is bad for the soil basically. And so you should never dig your soil which is you know, again, it's against everything that you know is a gardener right. It's all about digging your soil and adding stuff but actually what you need to do is protect the soil and dirt in in every square foot of healthy soil. There's 1000s of miles of threads of water roots of the three different types of fungi mycelium is one of them. And these incredible fungi called mycelium are the roots of the mushrooms that we often eat right? And they are the mushrooms are like the fruit of the mycelium. Okay, so these have these wonderful relationships with plants. And in return for the plants, they attach themselves to the roots of plants, and then return for the plants. They have kind of a symbiotic relationship basically. So the plants give these mycelium foods through carbohydrates or sugars from photosynthesis, and they feed them to their roots. And in return, if the plant needs something, they talk to each other. Basically, if the plant needs a particular nutrients, the mycelium in healthy soil, if it's in existence, if the network is there, it will go and get the nutrients that is required. And it'll transport it back along its threads along its network and give it to the plant. And the bacteria in the soil are vitally important. That's the health of the soil. And when you spray chemicals on your soil, you're killing the bacteria in the soil in the same way as if you put chemicals into your body. Sorry, sorry. No, I

Kathleen Shannon 38:15
feel like in my heart and gut I know better. Like my neighbor is the guy who works with this stuff. And he's always like, how do you want me to spray your lawn? And I'm like, No, but I don't know.

Mary Reynolds 38:26
Anyway, I understand. I understand because I did it as well before I understood what I was doing. And it's when you get it, you can't do it anymore. It's when you know what you're doing. And it is so accepted. Now it's like it's part of gardening. So people think spray is just another thing and you're told it's harmless. And it's not it's just lies. It's not harmless. You know, glyphosate, which is common herbicide everywhere that that's that's lethal, lethal. It kills all the bacteria in the soil, it stops that sub stuff, being able to absorb my manganese, sir. Magnesium, it can't absorb magnesium, there's no magnesium in our food. We have to take supplements to get it. I mean, there's so much wrong spraying but it's like taking antibiotics, it kills all the bacteria in your gut, and, you know, chemicals will kill the bacteria in the soil and it's dead. Without the bacteria. It's dead. We don't, we can't survive without those bacteria. We're basically walking plants. We just don't have roots and we're all inside out. We know we're like a, like a body of Earth really, you know, and all those same creatures are inside our guts. They're all in there. And we we need them to be well. You know? It's really strange that we just have forgotten that. Okay, so

Kathleen Shannon 39:48
here's my question. I got really into that idea of gardening and specifically I was trying square foot gardening A few years ago, I probably spent $300 on the best kind of soil and thing like worms and you know, just really composting, my own compost, really putting a lot of effort into this and yielding zero. And once I did start to grow, like a couple of things, the vine bores got to it. And then there was a hailstorm, and I just felt so discouraged. So then my goal was to really support the local farmers to get a CSA or to join a CSA and really just give my money to the people who didn't know what they were doing. And we're good at this sort of thing. So my question, I guess, is, I'm feeling reinspired talking to you, and it's Earth Day, and I want to join the rebellion, I want to heal myself and heal my land. But I just feel at the mercy of the elements like what, what do you do here? Like, what do you do whenever you just feel like you're in over your head? Is there a way I could start small with maybe container gardening, or what's the best way to start small maybe?

Mary Reynolds 41:05
Okay, but forget about container gardening. I kind of think you need to be connected to the earth, and there's just plastic between you. And so it's not really the same thing, you know. So you've got to look at your land like, this is just bear with me for a moment. Okay, so your land, if you have some, like a vulnerable child, and it looks to you, it's Guardian, as parents would, you know, it looks as a child looks to you to give it its direction, because it's totally under your control, it will have to become what you tell it. That's it. So it's looking to you. And I feel and is alive the same way we are, it has the same emotions as same feelings. Some of its damaged, some of it's not. There, over here, a lot of the good parts of the book is based on understanding the energetic healing processes with land, the old ways of working with land, like beating the boundaries, letting the land know which part you're working with. And which part comes within your family so that it knows why so so then you've got this individual piece of land. And it wants to become a wants to become a mature independent being. So you can either look at it like a child and go, right, I'm going to support you to become who you really want to be. But I'm going to give you boundaries, I'm going to help you grow, I'm not going to let you have to be wild, because if you do that you won't have a relationship with it. And that's an awful pity. And also, we run out of time, we can't allow all the things that can go wrong, go wrong. So you have to understand that this is going to take time. And that's the problem with all those types of gardening is that things will go wrong. But we are not prepared for them in those short term kind of square foot gardening things, there's no, we have to allow the natural ecosystems, gradually, we have to guide them back into place. And it takes time. Like initially, it's all about the soil about protecting the soil about, you know, putting the bacteria and the fungi right back in there where they need to be about creating shelterbelts. But starting with your, you know, your design, whatever spaces you need for yourself and your family within there and how to design them in ways that don't block the flow of energy. There's like a universal flow of energy, which comes with the patterns in nature, and you stay within them so that you don't block that. And you have this huge opportunity. There's a universal postbox where you can really connect into the whole universe through your regard. And that's a whole other side to the book. But in terms of understanding that yes, things will go wrong. And that can't expect much back from a child, right? You have to work with it until it gets to a point where it can return give you back stuff. So the those first years parenting are just thankless. Like, he looked at it and go, Oh, God is lonely and cute and everything. But like it doesn't talk to me or anything yet. It's really boring. But you know, so it's that thing of understanding that this is a slow process and its nature and you cannot force it overnight. And as a designer of gardens initially, people are not, I still come across somebody just won't work with them anymore. People want an instant garden. That's not forming relationship with a child that's just having a plastic version of one and there is that you can look at it and say is Isn't that pretty? Do you know that isn't going to work for anyone. So yes, when it's up and running you I have a list of things in the book that you will have to use to kind of hold a bay all the things that are going to go wrong like the slugs and the weevils and all the things that can go wrong. They are going to have to be held at bay until the ecosystem is strong. And when the ecosystem is strong, all the creatures that will be there as natural predators are going to be back the plants will have strong immunities Because they're supported and well, they won't, they won't succumb to any of that stuff. And it's just remember, it's just like a kid. So you either have a strong kid who feels empowered and strong, or you have a weak kid who is squished and given out to every time it tries to. tries to, you know, blossom, if that makes sense. Yeah, yeah, gosh, it's

Emily Thompson 45:22
happening, you threw your baby out with the bathwater is what happened.

Unknown Speaker 45:27
Don't do that with

Kathleen Shannon 45:28
anything else in my life. I mean, I have this stick to itiveness. whenever it comes to my own child, or my discipline, whenever it comes to taking care of my body, or whenever it comes to even our lives as creative entrepreneurs, we don't give up the first time something goes wrong, and I even in one season. So I think that this was just a bad time for me to have tried or, you know, maybe I was focusing too much on that end result and versus everything that you talked about in your book, which is a more holistic approach and a more really integrated approach where it's not just about, Okay, I'm going to plot out this four by four square, and I'm going to map out exactly what's going to grow in each square foot. It's really about I love how you really blend getting to know your land with growing it and nurturing it just like a child. So I'm curious to hear a little bit more, you know, even just seeing that connection, as you're talking about this garden between children raising children building a garden, and even creative entrepreneurship. I'm curious what connections you found between spending time in nature and your own personal development, like maybe and you talk a lot about how healing the earth and heals you at the same time and how that works together?

Unknown Speaker 46:47

Mary Reynolds 46:49
it's not like I'm fixed, just let me put it like, it's, it's a process. I get, you know, more than anyone else. I'm working towards this. I'm working towards it. Okay, so as I came to these understandings, I mean, all of my designs, looking back, were becoming more and more, if you look at my designs, they look like wombs are, you know, sexual organs almost look like,

Emily Thompson 47:21
I know what all of Kathleen's would look like,

Unknown Speaker 47:25
just starting

Kathleen Shannon 47:27
all over my backyard,

Unknown Speaker 47:27

Unknown Speaker 47:31
Like, it seems.

Mary Reynolds 47:34
Anyway, so what happens is that I realized, on observation, over those years of my writing this book, that all land attracts people who need the same types of healing as the land itself. So someone in other ways, some people, something bad can happen to one person. And they recover really quickly from it. And the same bad thing might happen to another person, and they'll hold on to it forever. And they'll never recover from us. Okay, so everyone's different, and land is the same. And you know, each each kind of, I'm sure you see it in America, like you see how, say people from Colorado are different from people from New York, and Seattle. And so they all have different personalities or energies, right? If they're connected to the earth if they're not to. And then people are attracted from all over the world to go and live in different places. And it's because they require the same types of healing as those pieces of land to do. So let me explain my land, for example, which I now have, and I'm trying to bring back to life, okay, I've only been working on it for about a year, I have my own forest garden with my manager, which we brought back to life, but I didn't have my own piece for me and my kids until a year ago, so a year and a half ago. So although I have done this with Claire, my friend and monitor, I haven't, hadn't done it for myself, if that makes sense. So now I am. And it's very interesting, because the land that I chosen that chose me has serious issues with abandonment, a serious issues of feeling rejected and not trusting people at all. And that's the land that I have chosen. And it's exactly the same as me. And it's amazing to to feel into the land and to feel it gone. Yeah, right. You're gonna stick around, you're not gonna stick around and go, No, I'm gonna stick around. We'll stick around, you know, I'm going to be here. And it's just a slow process. And as I work with the land as I planted 200 trees the weekend I been, I've been working with it. I've had horses there to bring all the proper bacteria back to the soil. You can do it naturally like that, you know. And using pigs tempted to create open spaces. So that we can put in welfare meadows and things, you know, I am working with it. But I'm finding that I, I, what I know what's going to happen is that I'm going to recover from my abandonment issues, you know, and my fear of rejection on my own just on my belief that people won't stick around. And I'm getting to the point where I don't, I don't actually care if I end up on my own, which is a really good thing. You know, I'm sorry, that sounds very personal, very specific. But what I mean is that every piece of land has the same needs that you do. And we disconnected from the earth completely when we stopped growing our own food, right? That's the moment when we stopped having a connection with the earth. And up until that moment, it was really important that we took care of the earth. And it's really important because we depended on it. But now we just buy it from the supermarket down the road, and it's covered in plastic and doesn't mean anything. It's just like, oh, what do we cook tonight, right. Whereas if it was vital, that we took care of us, because we depended on it for our survival.

Emily Thompson 51:01
And this was also only about 100 years ago, which I want to point out, which is mind boggling to me. And something that I do think about a whole lot is like the first grocery stores popped up less than 100 years ago. So 100 years ago, we were all still growing our food. And within a generation or two, we've completely forgotten how to do this, which is mind blowing to me.

Mary Reynolds 51:25
And within that same amount of time, we have almost destroyed our planet. So that that is that this connection, that we have that we have lost that, you know, it's we've ripped hole in our hearts, by losing that connection with our mother, the earth beneath our feet, right. And that hole, we're trying to fill constantly with going to the gym, drugs, alcohol, television, connecting to people, which isn't really working, it's not really working, you know, the real connection is beneath our feet. Now, people who really have that connection, and they do, obviously all around the world as indigenous people who still have that dependence on the earth. And, you know, they have exactly the same energy as people who've been meditating for about 50 years. And they have it naturally. And so, it would be a very simple thing for us to get back into that connected space where we find our true selves again, and our roles and who we are we, we've just felt like there is no need for us to be on this planet. There is no role for us in this ecosystem, none. The only role for us here is to mind it. Now, we can't let it go back to a mature dark woodland, our job is to hold it so that it's more of a mid succession woodland. So that is multiple tiers of plants, because it is more likely to look more like true. That's our job, right simple thing, and to match it up and lift. So basically, we're keeping more light coming through. And forest gardening is a very specific and slow science of building a multi tiered woodland system, even in the smallest of spaces. But if we hold that, that's that, that if we allow the land to be minded, and we, we bring in other plants, and we work with the native plants, we have to work with the native plants, because the connections between all the creatures that they need those native plants, we also can bring in other plants that can feed us as well. You know, in the Amazon basin years ago, that's the you know, for 1000s of years, people live like that. And the most fertile soils in the world are in the Amazon to call the blacker soils. But there's also also extremely in fertile areas of the Amazon where people didn't live. So we can be a positive influence here as opposed to this incredibly destructive and negative one. And we've gotten to a point where it's becoming clear that unless we step up ourselves and deal with this, we're out here and and us as mothers, we can't we can't do that. I don't want my kids to end up in that in the world that we're heading into.

Emily Thompson 54:14
For sure. And for me if one of the most powerful forms of resistance that I can practice is loving the earth and tending to my piece of land, then I'm all in Yeah. That sounds easy enough to me grow my grow my food. Um, and I don't know.

Unknown Speaker 54:38
Sorry for interrupting. Oh, no, no, sorry. Oh,

Unknown Speaker 54:40
you're fine.

Kathleen Shannon 54:42
We're having a good conversation. Good. Lots of interest. Oh,

Mary Reynolds 54:46
it's not terrible. One thing that you can do that's really useful right now is if you want to grow food right now, right? You can you can lead you can do Take a section of your land, okay. And Grow, grow some little pots of peat free based soil compost in your little pots, your seed trays and grow like your greens even just grow your greens and mix them up don't have rows of vegetables because then it's like one of the little creatures are gonna come along with Oh look, there's another one beside it. Let's see that one as well and then moves on in the rows. So that doesn't work very well. Mix everything up to a diverse mix of all these things right and put some native plants in there, let the dandelions go in there, let all the other things like the plantings and things, get them in there, you know, first, because it takes a while to build up the multi tiered system, right. But my favorite way of getting people started in this and getting them to understand just to put together make some compost, most people have a compost heap, what is down on top of the grass, put down sheets of cardboard over that, wet it and get your little plugs of plants and stick them into the cardboard. So you've got all these little plants stuck into the cardboard true, you don't have to do any work, no digging, nothing, it's so easy. And then you put put mulch down on top of that. So everything is retained, the moisture is retained. So easy. Like maybe put a strip of copper around the edge. So the slugs don't have a feast. So you know, they've been cross over the conference. I have different ways of dealing with these creatures. But you have to you have to do it slowly, you know? But yeah, just God, it's just it's so easy. And I suppose it takes a bit of time. But the good thing about this whole method that I have in my book is that none of us have any time. I don't have much time. You know. So this is a really slow process, because you can't do it fast. You just can't like you can't tell a baby to grow up, skip the teenagers Get on with it like

Kathleen Shannon 56:46
man I've tried. And I please get his sleep deprivation phase like, but then you find that you're not being present for where you're at, right? I mean, just like everyone or businesses, why would you wish away what's happening right now even if it's not the best? It's It's the story. It is what it is. It's the process.

Unknown Speaker 57:08
Yeah, I love that. That's so true. Yeah.

Kathleen Shannon 57:11
I've got another question for you kind of rewinding because something that I'm hearing from you sharing your story is the fact that you share your story. It's not just about doing the work. Now you have a movie being made, which that could probably be a whole other podcast, like how did that happen? You've written a book, can you talk to a little bit about the importance of sharing your story, and maybe even allowing your story to evolve with you? Like, how has that played into your business and into your life?

Mary Reynolds 57:40
I don't, I don't, don't really understand what you mean, sorry.

Kathleen Shannon 57:44
I just there's a lot of people, I mean, for example, I know some landscape gardeners who are not writing books, and they're not having films made about their life.

Emily Thompson 57:54
And they're not even talking about their yard or past projects, they have a portfolio or not even a portfolio, they're just like, here, here's what I would like to do for your yard. And it the connection is lost, like the story is not there. It's simply here's the thing that you want, and how can I rephrase this? So? And, honestly, I love that you don't even get the question in that it's not even an issue for you. You're just sharing your story. And I think that's probably that's your answer. Kathleen, I know it's a non issue,

Unknown Speaker 58:28
non issue. It's

Mary Reynolds 58:29
just happened No, no, there is there is an element of if you go back to that, to my understanding that that my my true love is nature, my true connection. You know, I have my kids and I love them more than anything and I have people in my life that I adore, obviously, but my true love my where I feel safe to love because of whatever issues I have, you know, as mad as a brush as I am is nature. So, you know, I feel this overwhelming need to protect nature and I'm seeing what's happening at such a devastating rate I I can't bear it, like the pain that I feel on a constant basis is overwhelming. I just want to get down on my knees and apologize constantly to the earth for what we are doing. You know, I'm horrified. And once you open up to what's going on and suddenly look around the supermarkets and see how crazy this all is. It's crazy. Like all this abundance that is available to us. We're ignoring and we're trying to fill in that hole in our hearts with all this crazy stuff like more and more stuff. Which brings nobody happiness. The more choices we have, the less happy we are. You know, it's just a weird, weird, weird dream. We're all living and nobody wants to go back to being you know, cold and living in caves. Let's talk. Now, we did hit there, there is like a need to remember what's important and restore that connection with the earth. And before it's too late. And if it's too late, then that's a pity. It's an awful pity. I just hope it's not too late. But I don't think it is. I think we still have time to fix this. As long as everybody realizes nobody else is going to fix it.

Emily Thompson 1:00:31
I agree with that. Oh,

I was like that's, that's it, fix it.

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:39
Well, and that brings us, let's maybe wrap this up by one last actionable. I mean, you've shared so much, and thank you so much. But if there's just one thing that our listeners could do, right now, to begin doing some Earth healing, what would that be?

Mary Reynolds 1:00:54
Okay, plant a tree as quickly as possible, and recognize and acknowledge your land, so that it doesn't feel ignored, the worst thing you can do is to ignore something. If you hate it, at least it feels a connection. But if you ignore it, it doesn't realize it exists on its energy disappears and retreats, you need to, you need to connect with it and tell it that you're acknowledging it, and that you're going to get around to fixing and helping and healing it. Now, as soon as you can plant a tree and stop digging and stop using chemicals. Sorry, Kathleen, you didn't know everybody doesn't know. I didn't, I

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:35
didn't know what was funny. I didn't know I didn't know. And I was going against my better judgment, you know, almost like keep up with the Joneses. Or to keep up appearances. I did the one brown lawn in the in the neighborhood,

Mary Reynolds 1:01:50
when you should be proud of the fact that you're the only one a neighborhood is actually caring enough to stop putting this stuff down. But I did this to Kathleen, I promise you it's not like you're any different. I mean, I think everyone has been fooled into thinking that that's the norm. And it's such a short amount of time. You know, some Emily was saying Sony 100 years less. I mean, it's crazy. It's crazy. Yeah. So yeah, I think planting trees and acknowledging the land and slowly working towards stopping using chemicals not even considered like that's crazy. And realizing that all the food you're eating is poisonous, even the organic food isn't good enough, it's still based on tilling the soil, we need to step away from that we need to need to go back into actually the Victory Gardens like you say, but this is a step further in that it's saying what is the land itself want to become and working with us and it's not just about us is all the other creatures that we're supposed to be taking care of. It's not, it's not just about us, you know, it's, there's a whole, you can pull on one thread, one thread in nature, and everything is attached to it. Everything is attached to it. So we need to take care of every single part of that thread because if any of it is caught, the whole thing is going to break. So that's it. Thanks for having me.

Emily Thompson 1:03:12
Thank you so much. This This has been I may have teared up a time or two guys, that totally did happen. Um, but because because I feel this too. And I'm so grateful that you were able to join us and talk about this stuff. If anyone who's listening wants to hear more, go get Mary's book, the garden awakening, and get it all the places that books are sold. I'm sure Amazon is where I got my

Kathleen Shannon 1:03:39
film called again.

Mary Reynolds 1:03:41
It's called dare to be wild. You can look up the trailer it's there when you Google it it's it's out like it's been out it was out in Ireland. I had to drag my children to the premiere in Japan last September and we went to you know different few different places but it's coming out in phases is just coming out in Germany now but they have a few offers in America now I think to release it over there. So I don't know when but sometime this year, probably the summer you know, but it's a beautiful film and it's a it's not a dark movie, which is always a relief, you know?

Kathleen Shannon 1:04:16
Watch it and say I know her

Emily Thompson 1:04:18
right I agree.

Unknown Speaker 1:04:23
It's a very

Emily Thompson 1:04:29
awesome, thank you so much.

Mary Reynolds 1:04:30
Lovely. Thank you very much guys. It's lovely to talk to you.

Kathleen Shannon 1:04:35
This episode of being boss was brought to you by fresh books cloud accounting, thank you to fresh books for sponsoring us and you guys can try it for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss. Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Articles show notes and downloads at WWW dot beam boss club.

Emily Thompson 1:04:55
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Kathleen Shannon 1:05:19
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Emily Thompson 1:05:37
Do the work. Be boss, and we'll see you next week.