Posts Tagged ‘relaxation’
October 22nd, 2010
Slow gardening, like slow food, is taking the time to savour, it is the process, not the sudden transformation that matters. When you build a little, dig a bit, plant a little, move slowly and most importantly, don’t try to do it all at once, nature works with you. Gardening is something you do, not something you buy. You don’t have to spend money to have a great garden.
If you can find the right plant for the right place your hardest job is done. The plants do the rest! Don’t aim for a tropical garden if you live somewhere cold. Life has enough pressures without bringing them into the garden. Make compost and leaf piles and let nature look after your waste. Relax a little, then do a bit more. Soon you find yourself slowing down and enjoying the process of gardening.
Whatever you end up creating and growing in your garden, it is good to find your own way of doing it, and enjoy the process. The garden is the one place we do not need to rush. It is a place to slow down and take it all in! Everyone can grow something. It can be anything, and when you grow something you become a gardener.
July 21st, 2010
Today I will paint a word portrait of my little winter garden. The Daphne is covered in buds. Soon the buds will open up into flowers and I can take a few inside to enjoy their scent. The pineapple sage is still flowering much to the pleasure of the little honey eaters that love to feed on its flowers. If you brush up against the bush as you walk on by, or the native mint bush that grows near it you can enjoy their scent as it is only released when the leaves are crushed. There is nothing so lovely than to pick a leaf, hold it up close and drink in the scent, exquisite, against the cold, morning air! One of the delights of an early morning wander about.
The sky this morning is blue again after days of grey. Drifts of cloud streaking overhead. My bowl of hyyacinth are almost flowering! It is very still.
My lemon tree is heavy with lemons. The little finches and honey eaters are very busy and so quick flitting about in the pineapple sage. The ground is very wet, much to the ducks delight! My red camelia is covered in flowers and a delight to see. Over in the corner, close to the lemon tree is the Mahonia, also covered in the beautiful long yellow flowers. These are scented and the birds love to visit this tree also.
My garden is not neat and tidy but it is a very busy place full of bird song and growing things. You can hear the busy little finches and the tiny honeyeater and if you look carefully you can see the bush move, but you have to be patient and wait to catch a quick glimpse of the tiny bird visitors.
This is my winter garden.
PS. The first of the jonquils are flowering…Spring is on its way!
July 10th, 2010
There is an art to pottering in the garden. When you master this gentle art you will find that pottering can be very therapeutic! Time slows down. You slow down. It can be very relaxing. The first rule of pottering is that there is no rules at all. No lists of work to be done. In fact the very best sort of pottering happens when you just go outside and wander about, doing whatever comes to hand. There should be no timetables, no particular project to complete.
I usually start a day of pottering with what I call ‘the garden walk’. This is different from walking to get somewhere, or the early morning exercise walk. This walk is more of a wander really. You just wander about, and maybe sit down, if a seat is at hand and let your mind drift. You will notice little things that need your attention. Some little job that you might like to do. A weed may need to be pulled out. A rose cut back. Before you know it your garden gloves are on and you are away.
The hours pass and you might find you have got quite a lot done, but it doesn’t matter if you have or not. A day spent pottering is not about ‘getting things done’ it is about time being spent pleasantly. It is about listening to the birds and maybe sitting down and watching them for a while. It is about not just smelling the roses but taking the time to touch their petals. It is about slowing down.
June 2nd, 2010
The second day of winter and three months left to prepare the garden for spring. One of the wonderful things abut living in Southern Australia is the changing seasons. There are special things about each and every season to look forward to with delight and anticipation.
For me, winter is a time to plan and dream. It is a time to take stock and decide which things need to be cut back and which mulched down against the cold. It is a quiet time when a lot of the garden is dormant, so you can make some little changes. Plants are easier to move during the dormant season. It must be quite startling for a plant to go to sleep in my garden during winter and wake in spring somewhere quite different!
One of the best things about gardening is that nothing is constant, you can always make changes. For me, in an ageing garden with my trees getting taller shade is a real challenge and I am thinking of seeking out the services of a good tree surgeon, who could come in and prune some of my large trees to give them more vigour and to allow more light to come onto the flowerbeds beneath them.
New roses come into the nurseries this month, so I might just take the chance to review the rose situation in my garden and make sure that there really is a place to plant more roses before I find myself, once again in the nursery succumbing to the temptation once again.
The ducks are laying once again. So, that means cakes are on the menu once again. Pancakes too. In fact, the ducks are much more happy now there is more mud about.
The bulbs I planted last month are beginning to pop up all over the garden. Very exciting! The only down side to this time of the year is that some days don’t always look inviting to get on out there. But I find that once I am out in the garden, maybe with an extra jumper and wooly hat it is just the best place to be!
May 11th, 2010
A cheerful garden under the bluest of autumn skies has been begging for my attention. So, for the past few days it has been me and the ducks pottering about. It was wonderful to be outside and it occured to me, once again, that it is the garden that teaches me what ‘gardening’ is really all about. A garden can help us to connect our dreams with the natural world around us. Gardening connects us to the natural world and slows us down to the pace of life as it should be lived. As you work away in your own little Eden the seasons become your teacher. You get to know the plants more intimately and learn about their likes and dislikes, as you do with friends.
I like to feel that gardeners who live and work in harmony with their surroundings make a valuable investment in the living green mantle of Earth which sustains all life by providing shelter, food, and even the air we breathe. I certainly feel more in harmony myself if I have had my ‘garden therapy’ for the week.
Autumn is a very busy planting time for me. I have moved towards mediterranean, drought tolerant plants that need little water, and I have found that these plants planted in autumn become established over winter, watered by the beneficial winter rains. In the summer that follows, many are able to manage on their own, helped by ample mulch, while a few still need the bi-weekly water to survive the hottest summeer months.
So, I have been away from the computer and busy as a bee out under the slowly changing colours of the autumn leaves. Waddles and Hazel have been having heaps of fun in the puddles that have been abundant lately with the rain, and to make things even more exciting – we are beginning to find more …snails! Well, I am off to rake up a few more leaves for the compost!
March 25th, 2010
Why do we all love to have and tend our gardens? I believe it is the love of growing things. It is the excitement of watching the wonders of Nature unfold before our eyes. To watch those first green sprouts of the bulbs we planted months ago and almost forgot about! To see the fascinating results of a tiny seed yielding its beauty. To feel the earth under our hands and get down and dirty!
In Wind in the Willows Ratty enjoyed mucking about in the river, on the river and in a very similar way I enjoy mucking about in the garden in amongst the weeds and plants. Digging amongst the rosemary enjoying the heady fragrance as I work! Feeling the earth – feeling connected.
Rest for a while in your garden and let your thoughts wander at random to ponder on its beauty. You will be surprised at how relaxed you will feel after a short time. Think of all the creatures we find in our gardens – the beauty of the butterfly, the swift flight of the birds, the joy of hearing them chatter and sing, the minute insects under stones and plants, our hardworking friend the earthworm.
My garden is not an award winning one, but it is a garden made with Love, with a capital ‘L’ – sometimes the ‘L’ stands for Learner! I am always learning – the garden can teach you many things, and not just about plants! A garden can teach you patience, it shows you how to look carefully and notice small things. It is alway full of surprises and little joys. If you allow it, you will learn how to slow down to the pace of life as it should be lived, one season at a time.
March 22nd, 2010
In my back garden there is a beautiful Chestnut tree that must be at least 50 years old. Each autumn it provides me with lovely autumn leaves for my compost. In the summer – welcome shade. All the year long it is a thing of beauty. Sometimes I wonder about the gardener who planted it all those long years ago. As gardeners we are all following in the footsteps of gardeners past, for the gentle pleasures of working in a garden goes right back to the beginning of known time.
The Bible mentions gardens frequently, and talks about them not only in terms of food but also in relation to pleasure. From the Garden of Eden in the very first book Genesis through to Ecclessiates, in which the author talks about his beautiful gardens. The book of Daniel refers to King Nebuchadnezzar II, the ruler of Babylon, who is thought to have created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.
Murals in pharaohs’ tombs show how ancient Egypt cultivated food such as dates and olives, wheat and figs. It was probably the ancient Romans who first developed the now accepted concept of the garden room. As the Romans conquered Europe and Britain, they introduced many medicinal and culinary herbs. We can follow the chain back, right back into times past.
The cottage garden style that we all know and love so well came into being in the second half of the eighteenth century. It was based on a desire to grow everything you needed, both ornamental and productive, within a very small plot. That is why it is still so practicable today. Fruit, vegetables, herbs, flowers and shrubs were crowded into a small space. This sort of garden also know as a romantic garden has remained popular ever since. Just as it was for our great, great, grandmothers!
When we head out into our little plot, be it ever so humble, we are following a great tradition. We are following in the footsteps of those who have enjoyed all the pleasures a garden can provide. All those gardeners of the past enjoyed the same pleasures we are rediscovering today, the relaxation and pleasure a garden can provide. Just sitting in a garden amongst the green and living plants helps to relax and renew the spirit. Creating a garden uses your imagination and taps into your artistic self.
January 24th, 2010
Welcome to my garden! I have been very busy outside this morning harvesting my tomatoes and pulling out some weeds here and there. I have been pottering about and time just got away from me, but in a very nice way. I could hear little noises from the duck shed telling me it was time for Waddles & Hazel to come outside to start their day. So, I let them out and decided to make some pancakes with their contrubution of eggs and to make a bit of an event of it by brunching outside and enjoying the garden. So, here I sit with the day before me and the gentle peace of the garden surrounding me.
So far the summer has been gentle to my garden and my water tank is full. It is cool this morning and the scent of the native mint is competing with the lovely smell of early morning coffee. I can just sit back and watch the day unfold. Hazel and Waddles have trotted down to their little pond and are just about to slip in to have their morning splash. The rosellas are up in the Chestnut tree making little noises, just so I know that there is no seed on their seed tray. Suddenly, Chuckles swoops down with a couple of friends to see if I am having something they might like to share. But they are not impressed with my pancakes! The ferns are green and lush and some little finches are playing about in and around the fushias. High overhead the cockatoos swoop and screech, and quietly in the background the creek bubbles along its way to a larger river downstream.
I look through the paper and decide to head off on a drive later and take a peep at a few nurserys and markets I might pass on the way. There is no hurry though, I will just let the day unfold slowly.
January 22nd, 2010
I like to think that most people who grow plants, even if only one pot plant has talked to it or them (the plants, that is) at some time or another. I certainly do. I feel that there is a certain affinity we humans have with plants – an affinity that cannot be explained rationally. But then, I have been caught by my next door neighbour explaining to some local kookaburras that I did not have any more meat to give them. I had my hands out, to show that they were empty, and I spoke very slowly. ‘No more, see?’ ‘I don’t think they speak English,’ said my neighbour, with a chuckle. Well, they are learning, I explained. But, I am certain that whether or not other people talk to their plants, most people would experience a similar experience of obtaining comfort, solace or just relaxation just from being around plants or natural areas. There is something sensory about the way plants affect us.
This is hardly surprising, for most of the things that happen in the world are beyond the ability of the human senses to detect anyway. We see a minute fraction of the available range of wavelengths of light; our ears hear only a small portion of the known ‘sounds'; our ability to detect chemicals via taste and smell is far inferior to that of other animals; and there are myriad of other forms of senses that other organisms possess but we do not, such as radar and magnetic sense. And even the stimuli we do perceive are interpreted through the filters of our own beliefs and upbringing.
Everyone, even the most hardened cynic, have experienced moments of heightened awareness and sensitivity. At these times we touch the mystic, non-rational side of ourselves – the side that is normally buried beneath the thick, rational skin of our exterior workaday selves.
I find that these types of experiences commonly happen to me when I spend a lot of time around plants and nature. I find that working with my garden, working with nature helps me to become attunened with the earth in a very special way. The process of attunement is one of the most powerful tools available to the gardener, for it enables you to tune in to plants, the soil, the weather and so on and in this way to take actions that will be in harmony with your garden. Attunement is beyond a rational understanding; it cannot be understood in the normal way we understand things. It can only be validated by experience, by feeling it. Neither is attunement a conscious process, for it involves a ‘letting go’.
There are no hard and fast rules about attunement; it is a very individual experience. For me it begins with quieting my internal dialogue. To achieve such a quiet mind is no mean feat, and it does require more effort than one would think. But, after I have succeded in switching off my interal dialogue, the rest comes by itself. Suddenly I will get a clear picture of where a particular tree should be planted or of some change that is needed and this knowledge comes with a great certainty, usually without any explanatory reasoning. You just know.
One way I have found helpful in developing this extra sense of attunement is to walk around the garden. Not for any particular reason, but just to feel a part of it, to feel the earth beneath your feet so to speak. Attunement is a practical skill that can be acquired by anyone. It is the skill of developing a feel for your garden – a feel for your plants – they do talk to you, you just have to stop and listen.
January 17th, 2010
A garden, any garden is surely one of life’s happy places. Just being in a garden provides joy and tending your very own garden, be it a pot plant or a back yard provides a creative outlet. In life it is the simplest of things that make us happiest. Standing in your garden – no matter how small – in the soft, early morning light on a hot summer morning is a perfect pleasure. Bringing out that early morning coffee to enjoy under the shade of a Chestnut tree and listening to birds and the sound of a little creek is relaxing and helps put any troubles into perspective.
I used to think that no season could surpass spring for anticipation and the joy of watching the garden come to life. But just this morning, while sitting with my early Sunday morning coffee the pure scent of gardenia washed over me and I noticed all the buds that had been ready to come out had bloomed and the perfume was amazing. The roses and lavenders are all full and lush and I have now decided that summer must be the most voluptuous season of the entire year! Mind you the true test of any garden or gardener is just around the corner – the hot dry February to come.
The creation of beautiful surroundings enhances quality of life in countless ways. The mental health value of gardening is well known to those who practise garden-making. Anyone who has worked or walked in a garden, watched plants grow or spent hours dreaming of creating a cool, calming oasis of beauty will attest to the emotional benefits of gardening. Time seems to slow when you are outside working with plants, and you slow down and relax also. I love working in my garden trying to create an enchanting retreat, a happy place, with plants.