Garden from tomatoes early July

The garden in early July

I recently learned the word “entelechy” from reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. As I understand it, it’s the force that drives things to become what they were meant to be, the spirit that makes the acorn into the oak–or, more relevantly to my case, a tiny handful of seeds into a welter of burdock.

Gardeners have to be intimately aware of entelechy  when they design their gardens; they have to understand that the sparse and spindly seedlings will shoot outwards and upwards and that the seemingly empty garden will soon be full.

I, alas, didn’t account for entelechy adequately when I did my own planting. While my garden could at no point have been described as “neat,” the straw paths between beds were clearly visible.

Garden from cabbages early July

The garden before entelechy completely finished having its way with it

That’s no longer the case. Vegetables and their weedy consorts have clambered out of their beds and are now scrambling enthusiastically around increasingly jungle-like garden. Collecting vegetables from this exuberant mass is more accurately described as “foraging” than “harvesting.”

Garden behind sunflower

Entelechy’s handiwork

But that’s all right; instead of fretting about the mess, I’ll applaud my garden for its self-actualization and give it credit for being a top-notch wildlife refuge. This, my friends, is entelechy at work.

Sing in garden

Here’s another bit of advice from my garden (courtesy of one of my grandmother’s decorative signs): “Sing.” I personally expand this suggestion to, “Don’t weed; sing instead.”


  1. Much food for thought here – pun intended. I like your garden, organized but not crazy so.

    Thanks you for introducing me to the special word entelechy, which I had not heard before. I have enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd’s writing but haven’t kept up with her recent works, The Dance of the Dissent Daughter. I will add this rich word to my vocabulary. I love this sentence; “Vegetables and their weedy consorts have clambered out of their beds and are now scrambling enthusiastically around increasingly jungle-like garden.” Ha!

    Right now I’m worn out by the rigors of moving and have no time to keep up with the life of the mind, books specifically, which I am boxing up and will soon be unloading into my bookcase. Thank you for keeping me in touch with the “reality” I enjoy most.

  2. · · Reply

    Beautiful🤗 nice work Whitebodys!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. […] discovered this word on Rebecca White Body’s fine blog last year. Here’s what she […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: