Have you ever stopped to think about how your personality affects your garden or what type of gardener you are? How does it affect the way you create, plan, adjust to change? How you deal with setbacks and failures?
I’ve really stopped to think about this the last few years and I realize that every garden is different because every gardener is different.
I’ve been fascinated my entire life with personality theory. In the past few years, I’ve been drawn even more to the enneagram and its complex dive into our core motivations that drive our behaviors.
I do believe that my enneagram number affects all parts of my life, but especially my garden. Whether or not the enneagram is the way you label your unique personality, the truth is, when we understand why we do what we do, we become more healthy at whatever hobby we pursue.
On this episode of the Beginner’s Garden Podcast, I sat down with Carissa Hardage. She has a counseling background as a clinical social worker and is in the process of becoming a certified enneagram coach. We dive into why we do what we do, as it relates to our gardens. You will want to listen to our entire conversation here or you can read below for the high points.
Why does knowing our ennegram number matter?
In all reality, do you have to know your enneagram number? No. It’s simply a tool for self-awareness and learning why you do the things you do. Being aware of our strengths and struggles in our different personalities is the key to healthy living.
This awareness trickles down into every area of your life: relationships, friendships, work, hobbies, passions, etc. Gardening is certainly no different. So much of how we learn, how we plan (or not), why we grow what we do, and how we deal with challenges and failures in the garden start with our core personality.
A background on the Enneagram
The enneagram is made up of 9 personality types, numbered 1 through 9. It’s a complex and fluid system. We all have a bit of each types, but one is our dominant type.
Just remember that the information we are sharing here is a tiny little snapshot of one giant panoramic picture. We paint with a broad brush that which is much more complex than can be shared in one post. Dive into it for yourself. Research it. It’s sure to enrich your life.
But for today, let’s talk about how our dominant type might impact what kind of gardener we are, and how that knowledge can help us lean into enjoying our gardens more.
#8 The Challenger/The Protector
Eights are motivated by the desire to protect themselves and other people. They seek truth and justice for all and they do not like to feel less than or weaker than anyone. They never want to feel vulnerable, especially in their own space, and so they go to great lengths to control that space. At times, that control seeps into controlling others in their space or even spaces close to them.
They are great decision-makers — fair and just. They have the biggest energy of all of the numbers and they draw people to them. They have huge hearts hidden beneath a tough exterior and they are generous people.
Eights struggle with feelings and often are detached from emotions, intimidating to others, and can seem insensitive. But actually, they are very sensitive towards others; they just don’t like to show it with grand emotions.
8’s Garden Superpowers
They are determined, so when they start something, they will complete it. They are hard workers and not afraid to confront obstacles that get in their way. If there’s a problem that arises in the garden, they will figure it out!
8’s Garden Struggles
They struggle in not knowing the outcome. They don’t do well not being able to control all of the elements and let’s face it, mother nature is not something we can ever control. They also aren’t patient so gardening can be too much of a slow pace for them.
8’s Garden Takeaways
If eights can get past the need to control every factor in gardening, and actually start and plant a garden, they can be very successful. On a personal level, the garden can be healing to the eight’s soul. It allows them to slow down and to connect to nature.
#9 The Peacemaker/ The Mediator
Nines are the sweethearts of the enneagram. They are the most connected with nature of all the other numbers. They love to hike, be outdoors, garden, etc. They are motivated by the desire to maintain peace. They avoid conflict, disorder, chaos.
They never want to feel like they don’t matter, are shut out or are overlooked. Deep down nines can feel like they don’t matter much, but they really, really do. Nines are so good at recognizing that there’s a place for everyone at the table.
While they are the most easygoing of all the numbers, they also can be indecisive. They struggle prioritizing tasks, can lose their sense of self in order to keep peace, and can become complacent in situations to keep their minds at peace.
9’s Garden Superpowers
Nines are at peace in the garden and their gardens are beautiful. They maintain the natural order of things. They are able to see what’s needed and execute it properly. The guesswork in the garden isn’t as overwhelming to them as it may be in other parts of life.
9’s Garden Struggles
They can struggle to follow through. They need some structure and to say no to a little more. They want to plant all of the things but may struggle to keep up with the demands of planting everything.
9’s Garden Takeaways
If they really want to garden, they will do it and it will be done well. That is the desire of their hearts to be in nature and find joy in nature. If they go in with the intention of doing one thing to improve their garden each day, they will succeed.
#1 The Reformer/ The Improver
Ones see what the rest of us could be. They tend to be visionary, insightful, and bring order to the world. They are moral perfectionists and want everyone to be their best. They are motivated by the desire to improve and try their hardest to live the right way. They are our planners in all things.
Ones avoid being bad, inappropriate, or what they see as unredeemable. They are so responsible, reliable, dedicated, and industrious. If they think something will be for the better of the world, they aren’t afraid to do it.
But they can struggle with feeling like nothing is good enough. They have this inner critic that makes them doubt their goodness and worth. They have a hard time letting things just be because the standards they have set are almost impossible to be met — and those standards are the highest for themselves. They struggle with letting small flaws go.
1’s Garden Superpowers
If you’ve ever walked into a 1’s garden, it’s probably the super gardens you see in magazines. They bring order to chaos. They plan, analyze, and execute. They aren’t afraid to dig in and problem solve in order to have the best end results.
1’s Garden Struggles
When dealing with nature, no matter how much you plan and execute and set yourself up for perfection, mother nature has other plans. Ones tend to live with the idea that if they do what they had planned, it will work out, but gardening doesn’t always work that way. This can lead to frustration, and without understanding this, a 1 will struggle to see what is still good in the midst of seeing what didn’t go right.
1’s Garden Takeaways
If ones can let that inner voice go that tells them they failed, gardening can be so good for them. Ones can find benefit in stepping into their gardens and making an effort to appreciate what they’ve created, imperfections and all.
#2 The Helper/ The Giver
Two’s are the second sweetheart of the enneagram. They are motivated by the desire to be wanted, needed, and appreciated. They are the natural caretakers and nurturers. They never want to be seen as worthless and too needy.
They help our relationships in the world go round. They are in tune with the needs of others and feel that connection in ways that other numbers don’t feel. They are your friends baking and bringing you cookies, volunteering to help at any expense.
Because they are always deep in the throes of helping others, twos can feel burnout quickly. Their empathetic side is always dialed up to the max, often leading to mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion.
2’s Garden Superpowers
Because they are nurturers by nature, they are good at taking care of things. They will thrive when their gardens thrive. They also are able to create food in their garden to give to others and this fills their giver cup up.
2’s Garden Struggles
Twos can become depleted if the only reason they garden is for the sake of giving to others. This leaves them feeling a little resentful when the busy season hits because they’ve spread themselves so thin trying to meet everyone else’s needs before their own.
2’s Garden Takeaways
If they will find something they grow in the garden just for themselves, without any intention of giving it away, they will meet their own needs, which will help keep them going all season long. Because twos think of others so much in their garden, knowing there is a place and space for just them will help them maintain healthy balance.
#3 The Performer/ The Achiever
Threes long to prove that they are worthy of love. Often they believe this is achieved by what they succeed at, what they accomplish, or what appears to others to be successful. They are motivated by high status, achievements, and success.
Threes are leaders. They are competent, enthusiastic and take extra time to make others feel important. They are very good at relationships and make others feel valued. On the flip side, they struggle with their feelings and lose sight of themselves in the person they portray to the rest of the world.
They also don’t want to be seen as failures, much like ones. The difference is, the ones don’t want to fail because they believe they must have done something wrong. Threes, in contrast, don’t want to appear to be a failure in the sight of others.
3’s Garden Superpowers
Threes are finishers of the work they started. If a three ventures into gardening, it’s going to be a good garden. When their goal is set, the work happens.
3’s Garden Struggles
Deciding to take on the garden could be a three’s biggest struggle. Threes are an aggressive number much like the eights and taking the time to slow down is one of their biggest struggles. They also may have a hard time if something goes wrong in the garden, impacting its perceived success.
3’s Garden Takeaways
Threes desire peace in the midst of their striving, and the garden can provide that answer to their inner longing. They will find healing and peace in the slowdown if they simply just allow themselves to start.
#4 The Individualist/ The Idealist
Fours are motivated by the desire to be special, unique, or truly authentic while avoiding feelings of inadequacy. They never feel like they are cut off emotionally. They are creative and see beauty where others don’t see.
Fours are really good at being able to sit in their feelings. This allows them to be empathetic and attuned to others’ feelings that a lot of numbers don’t see. They don’t shy away from hard thoughts and feelings.
They can struggle with this inner battle of feeling inferior to others. They believe deep down they lack something others don’t. This can cause them to unconsciously isolate themselves if they feel like others are doing better than they are.
4’s Garden Superpowers
Fours have the power to create and see beautiful things. Their gardens will probably be a beautiful space, full of extra flowers that others may never plant and unique designs others haven’t thought of. They have a natural tendency to cultivate beauty around them.
4’s Garden Struggles
Their desire to succeed in all they do may be their hardest struggle in the garden. While going against the grain in gardening techniques makes a four’s garden unique, they may struggle with taking this too far. There is an order in the garden and best practices that fours may ignore even though it would be to their benefit.
4’s Garden Takeaways
If fours can embrace their desire for creativity while accepting that some “normal” is acceptable, they will succeed in the garden. Their desire to have grandeur can be limiting, so finding pride in what their hands produced — no matter how individual the harvest. may or may not be — is step one.
#5 The Intellectual/ The Investigator
Fives stay in their head and avoid feelings by thinking things through and leaving emotion out of it. They are motivated by learning, obtaining knowledge, and studying.
They tend to be thinkers before they are do-ers because they have this inner feeling that they won’t have enough energy to sustain their lives. They make up for this limited amount of energy by constantly taking in information that they think will help them and others.
Fives are wise. They are good at analyzing situations and developing objective solutions. They are dependable and great at teaching us the value of slowing down in life. This can also be a struggle because this can lead to isolation and detachment from relationships outside of their core group of who makes them feel safe.
5’s Garden Superpowers
Because they can figure out the hows and whys, they are excellent garden teachers. They research and take in details that other numbers don’t. They also, on an inner level, are filled up by their gardens because they get personal space and time to think in their gardens. They’re also excellent observers of what works and doesn’t work.
5’s Garden Struggles
Being alone too much isn’t good for anyone, ever, but especially true of fives. The garden is a natural space of being alone and while this can be great, it can be a detachment from the world that negatively impacts a five.
5’s Garden Takeaways
If gardening is your passion, join a community as a five. You will benefit from the companionship of others and they will benefit from the wealth of knowledge you bring to the table. Although fives especially enjoy and contribute to online communities, they will also benefit from in-person garden communities.
#6 The Loyalist/ The Skeptic
Sixes are motivated by security, guidance, and support. They avoid the feeling of fear. They never want to feel helpless in the face of danger and never want to feel alone. They are loyal, and if they trust you, they are yours for life. They live in a world of perseverance.
Sixes teach us how to be courageous because they operate inside this inner world of risk vs. rewards. They consider all situations through a lens of how something could also affect others, not just themselves. They don’t always know how brave they are, even when everyone else around them sees it.
Their struggle is worry and anxiety. They tend to think others think the worst of them when that’s rarely the reality.
6’s Garden Superpowers
Of all the numbers, the 6 is our best at troubleshooting. When things go wrong in the garden, they are likely the best to figure it out. They anticipate the challenges and plan accordingly. They’re also great at planning and follow-through.
6’s Garden Struggles
Fear and overthinking is the center of a 6. They live in that headspace and so they plant the garden and then watch the weather 24/7 to make sure they’re ready in case something bad comes. They may experience grief if they lose a plant.
6’s Garden Takeaways
Sixes can be excellent gardeners because of their organization and ability to think ahead. If a six can step away from the worry and anxiety about what could go wrong in their garden, they will find that they have created a beautiful space that brings them much joy.
#7 The Enthusiast/ The Optimist
Sevens are usually everyone’s desired number, including the sevens themselves! These friends are fun, outgoing, have big energy, and see the good in life. They lead with positivity and see possibility. They are motivated by adventure, stimulation, and projects.
They are our daredevils and adventure seekers. They try and turn any negative into a positive. They love life and appreciate their freedoms and the possibilities of what could come next.
Sevens never want to feel pain, heavy emotions, or suffering, and they will go to great lengths to avoid those things. They can be a little scattered and preoccupied with their headspace, asking themselves what can I move onto next. Their strength of finding joy can also be their greatest struggle because if something ceases to be fun, they want to move on to the next thing.
7’s Garden Superpowers
The sky is the limit in the seven’s garden. In the moment, they are all in. They will buy every plant, every seed packet, every item, throw it in and see what happens. They do all the things and they don’t worry if there’s a failure because they get a thrill out of the trying of something new.
7’s Garden Struggles
Commitment. Sevens struggle with following through, sticking with one thing, and slowing down long enough to see results. Labor and patience are required in the garden, and these aren’t fun which tempts them to give up when gardening gets hard.
7’s Garden Takeaways
Sevens can benefit by finding their “why” in the garden — and that why needs to be strong enough to sustain them for the months required to see it through. Gardening can also help a seven’s personal development. While all the other numbers need to garden to find joy, peace, or solace, a seven needs to the garden for the commitment, the patience, and the work involved. They need to practice follow-through, hard work, and tedious tasks. This will help them feel a sense of emotional attachment that they tend to run from.
No matter what number you are, becoming aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your number can only do well to serve you — and your garden — better and better.
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