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The Garden of Our Minds

Do we take care of our minds?

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider our minds as gardens, which need careful attention.

Preparation and materials

  • Either display the following words or use Wordle to create a word cloud that includes them: clean, clip, collect, cover, cut out, dig over, divide, feed, harvest, hoe, insulate, mow, plant, prepare, preserve, prune, rake, reduce, shade, sow, stake, treat, water and weed.

  • You will need the quote found at and the means to display it during the assembly.

  • You will also need the following images and the means to display them:

    - dandelion, available at:
    chickweed, available at:
    - ragwort, available at:


  1. Display the gardening words or word cloud and ask the students to identify what the assembly might be about today.
    Point out that all of the words are verbs, doing words.
    Comment that lovely gardens don’t just magically appear! For many people, gardening is a hobby, but it always involves a great deal of hard work.

  2. Early summer in particular is a busy time in the garden. Summer bedding plants need planting out and the grass grows quickly, so it needs to be mown regularly. There is pruning to be done and, as the weather warms up, deadheading, watering and that favourite of all jobs of gardeners, weeding! I can bet that if you have ever offered to help in the garden, that is the job you will have been given. Weeds have a habit of thriving.

  3. Ask the following question.

    - What is a weed?

    Listen to a range of answers.

    There are many possible definitions:

    - a wild plant growing where it is not wanted
    - a plant in the wrong place
    - a plant that is competitive, persistent and pernicious

    No matter which definition we think is the most correct, we would all agree that weeds are plants that we feel have undesirable qualities that outweigh their good points.

  4. Ask the following question.

    - What are some characteristics of weeds?

    Listen to a range of answers.

    There are six main answers to this question, which are listed below.

    - Typically, weeds produce large numbers of seeds.

    Show the image of the dandelion.

    - Weeds spread rapidly and establish a population.

    Show the image of chickweed.

    A buried weed seed has an excellent chance of long-term survival.
    A weed can inhabit many environments.
    - A weed can occupy sites that are disturbed by human activities.
    Many weeds are poisonous and therefore dangerous, particularly to animals.

    Show the image of the ragwort.

  5. Show the quote, ‘Your mind is a garden,/Your thoughts are the seeds . . ./You can grow flowers,/Or you can grow weeds’, available at

  6. Have you ever thought of your mind as a garden, somewhere where things grow?
  7. Have you ever thought that your mind is a place where things are planted and take root?
    Have you ever thought that your mind is a place that needs clipping and pruning, or where things need weeding out?

    The quote suggests that you cannot blame someone else for not looking after your mind well. It is all down to you and your choices. As the proverb says, ‘You reap what you sow.’

Time for reflection

What does the garden of your mind look like?

Think about the good seeds that are growing and establishing themselves in your mind and heart. These seeds could be things like kindness, love, peace, joy and thoughtfulness.

Are you aware of any particular weed that is also growing?
These weeds are things that harm and spoil your life and hurt other people. They could be things like unkindness, jealousy, hatred, rudeness and bullying.

Good gardeners first need to identify the weed before they know how to treat it.

Dear God,
We recognize that, within our minds and hearts, there is often a mixture of good seeds and weeds growing together.
We ask that you help us to tend and nurture the good, and fearlessly root out the bad.

Publication date: August 2016   (Vol.18 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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