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The Valentine’s Vine: Growing Love in Empty Hearts

heart leaves

My grandmother is a sly sage (as so many of our grandmothers seem to be).

On our most recent wander through her backyard, when I casually commented on her magnolia tree, she paused and replied,

“Yes, we have a lot to learn from the garden…”

And so we do.

It’s been a pretty bleak time for me over the last couple of years. (Which is why I took a break from blogging). Lots of changes driven by heartache and pain. As sometimes seems to happen in life…

The walls of my internal garden during that time have housed next to nought, as necessity overshadowed nourishment, and everything ended up neglected and parched. And though I kept ‘ploughing-on’ through the days, somehow I forgot to plant new seeds… So the field’s been kind of empty for a while.

Do you know that feeling?
Perhaps only too well.
So many of us do, at some time or other.

And as Valentine’s Day approaches, this kind of stuff just seems to get harder, harsher, the contrast highlighted by all the ‘lurve’ and flowers in the air. It seems easier just not to look; at the hype; at the self.

And then, walking up my back steps the other day, I saw it anyway. A vine untangling and growing beneath my very house. Right there, in the dark and the dust. Neglected, not watered, but flourishing anyway. A vine of verdant hearts.
(That’s it in the photo above).

Yes, we have a lot to learn from the garden…

Perhaps one lesson is that right here, right beneath your feet, even in the pit of barrenness, love can grow anyway. And will. And is.

Perhaps it’s not always the showy rose-blossom-fantasy kind of thing. Maybe it’s not even something anyone else can see. Maybe it’s just a quiet, growing sense of love you’re (finally) remembering to have for yourself, your life.

And maybe that’s where the garden can start up from again. A single unexpected surge of growth. A quiet renewal of heart – something for you and only you. And sort of even from you in a way.

A Valentine’s vine, growing and re-growing love. Growing care. Even in the darkness. Even in the empty…

Perhaps reminding you how to show a little love to yourself, no matter where you’re at this Valentine’s Day.

So, yes, as it turns out, there’s quite a bit to learn from the garden…



Text and photos copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar  is a psychotherapist and writer who works with people all over the world via Skype, phone and email; and she sees clients face-to-face in Australia.  You can reach her via One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also offers subsidised counselling for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience (in Australia).






















The Valentine’s Vine: Growing Love in Empty Hearts

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2016). The Valentine’s Vine: Growing Love in Empty Hearts. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Feb 2016
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