This week I’ve had the great fortune borrow a library book called ‘Gardening for Mindfulness’ by Holly Farrell.
So, taking a few mindful messages from her book, I’d like to introduce you to my garden this late November and how a few of her suggestions have encouraged me to look with new eyes at the jobs that seem to pile up at this time of the year.
Taking a mindful approach really does seem to make the late spring deluge of gardening tasks a joy rather than a mad panic to tick off the list.
As spring draws to a close, there is always plenty to do in a garden, especially our large garden. The flourishing growth that erupted from seedlings, shrubs and trees is now starting to fade, and much trimming and fertilising is on the jobs list. Our Scribbly Gums are shedding their bark, laying large swathes of crispy curly bark across the lawn and flinging strips of it into the pool like sheets of peeling sunburn. It’s an annual event that usually lasts three weeks, but this year it seems to be drawing out for many more weeks than usual. Oh, the mess!
I’m encouraged by reading the section on leaf clearing…I just transpose the message to bark. Holly calls upon us to See the vivid colours of the bark, the different shapes and sizes. I notice the brilliant colours on the underside of the bark and see that bark in the front garden is shedding in smaller strips than that in the back and I wonder why? Is it because the trees have a smaller girth? Are they less healthy I wonder?
While raking, she encourages me to really Feel the rake and notice how my arms work with this very simple yet incredibly effective piece of equipment. I’m so thankful that my arms are still strong enough to be able to rake, and I think of those in wheelchairs or walkers for whom raking is painful and sometimes even impossible. I feel gratitude.
And Listen to the crunch of the bark underfoot. It’s rather like the autumn leaves of my childhood in Gippsland. I loved crunching in those until the time I stepped into a large pile of leaves only to disappear up to my knees in a puddle of cold water! I realise that Holly’s words ‘an opportunity to rekindle our inner child’, are so true. Memories of these simple experiences lay dormant inside us.
In our garden, white root, a native ground cover, is our major headache. I really want to eradicate it but I’m losing the battle. I read about treating weeds like negative thoughts. Avoiding the weeding will only make things worse. Gently pull them out methodically and with patience. Putting off dealing with them makes things worse.
She writes about how weeding is so much like mindfulness. Cultivating the mind and making choices about our keeping or discarding thoughts and actions. I’m trying to see weeds with new eyes- each as a pretty and possibly useful plant with a message about the health of the soil or the potential for flowers and food.
I admit to getting a little panicked about clearing beds and planting all that I want to plant. In my head, there is a large excel-type spreadsheet with the week, the month, the season and the whole year ahead. It’s a whirlwind mental exercise in planning for colour, fragrance, edibility, habitat and shade and so much more. Like a shopping list, I tick off items only to have another slew of things take the space.
But Holly recommends me… ‘Remember that with all you do in the garden, the aim is to experience it as fully as possible, to be completely present in the moment and not away with your thoughts.’
I must aim to be more calm and present instead of rushing madly and forgetting that the garden is my source of utter joy and contentment. I really do give thanks to this beautiful land each and every day.
My thought from the book for today…
“More grows in the garden than the gardener sows.” Spanish Proverb