eeai | Questions from Ground Elder on the arrival of COVID-19
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Questions from Ground Elder on the arrival of COVID-19

Questions from Ground Elder on the arrival of COVID-19

By Therese O’Driscoll


Editorial |  This edition’s guest editorial piece was written by Therese O’Driscoll. Therese is our guest newsletter co-ordinator and a much valued eeai volunteer.

Ground elder is the scourge of many gardeners. It spreads easily and is very difficult to eradicate. This past week I have spent considerable time with it, time with the soil that has become it’s home and the vegetable patch it has invaded. I have wondered as I worked what lessons this invasive weed may have for all of us living with Covid19?

I have learnt the following with this plant. To do the best I can to root it out yet not become so fearful of it, or indeed obsessed by it’s presence that I fail to recognize the fertility in the soil still present and the potential for growth in the vegetables that can nonetheless thrive alongside it.

It is as if the plant asks how I might learn to live with that which is “ bad” as well as the “ good” and not let one take from the other?. How do I seek not to dominate the garden, imposing my will in careful planning and designing but allow life itself to co create the garden with me, bringing and allowing it’s own wild flowers ( wild primroses abound) and also these wild weeds?. How do I not become so fearful of this plant that I try to isolate it – not an option as I have discovered over the years, or indeed to eradicate it. That can only be done using chemicals that will destroy all the other life around this plant or rooting it out in such a time consuming way that there will be no time for anything else!

Might this pandemic be showing us something similar? .”Humanity is a single organism and that human existance is only in relation to other living beings” Arvo Part. Is corona virus like the ground elder? It is now part of the single organism of this ecology of life we all share and therefore we must learn to live alongside it? Is it an invitation to develop an awareness of it’s dangers but not become so fearful of it’s impact that we lose sight of all the beauty and nourishment that also can grow in it’s midst.

As all of us who work with and in nature know, it is a wonderful teacher. This viris may well be a teacher that asks us all the more to be true to the principles of this work, “ we are human only in contact and conviviality with what is not human” David Abram. For the moment this includes the Covid 19.


Therese O’ Driscoll is a psychotherapist, supervisor, movement practitioner and gardener working from her garden/cabin studio in Sligo, An Talamh. . Further details of her work can be found here.