Slow is bet­ter in gar­den


um­mer is just around the cor­ner,’’ said a re­cent nurs­ery news­let­ter, and the colour­ful cat­a­logues cer­tainly add to that en­joy­able sense of an­tic­i­pa­tion of flow­ers and good times to come. But as with many things, the en­joy­ment is ac­tu­ally in the now. And so it can be with gar­den­ing.

Mind­ful­ness in the gar­den is the sub­ject of many a book and blog. It is sim­ply the fo­cus of notic­ing what is hap­pen­ing right now, as you gar­den, by be­ing ab­sorbed in the mo­ment. The feel of the damp soil, the aching back, the con­cen­tra­tion on me­nial tasks and sounds of na­ture or other­wise, go­ing on around you, that con­sti­tute a liv­ing present.

It is in this slightly med­i­ta­tive state, that rest and respite be­come a re­al­ity. There is some­thing to be said for gar­den­ing within your means, that is, how much time or en­ergy you have to spend on main­tain­ing your gar­den.

Plant­ing ap­pro­pri­ate plants helps to not over­whelm you with tidy­ing, weed­ing or trim­ming tasks. If a tree is go­ing to grow large, for ex­am­ple, then plant­ing it some­where you will need to con­stantly trim it adds to the work­load.

Start small. A gar­den full of nag­ging weeds is not much fun when you have plenty of other tasks to do. A veg­etable gar­den can start as a pot of let­tuce on the porch and can grow as your time and en­thu­si­asm does.

By tak­ing time at the plan­ning stage of a gar­den, veg­etable, flow­ery or other­wise, you can tai­lor-make it for your life­style.

The old adage ‘‘a stitch in time saves nine’’, is never more ap­pro­pri­ate than in a gar­den. Weeds, small and ten­der, come out with­out much ef­fort, but if left for months their re­moval be­comes a full-scale workout.

If gar­den­ing in this way is like the hare, then weeds are like the tor­toise, and slow and steady gen­er­ally wins the race.

Many peo­ple turn to the sim­ple plea­sure of gar­den­ing when times are tough. Na­ture has a re­as­sur­ing con­stant and rhythm. It is also slow.

Pro­po­nents of the slow food move­ment, in which food is sourced lo­cally and sea­son­ally, are ex­tend­ing the phi­los­o­phy to slow gar­den­ing.

This is a de­sire to gar­den sim­ply and sea­son­ally, re­lin­quish­ing quick fixes such as store-bought in­stant plants and chem­i­cal prepa­ra­tions. There is a use of seeds, cut­tings and home-made com­post in­stead.

Au­thor of Slow Gar­den­ing: A No-Stress Phi­los­o­phy for All Senses and All Sea­sons, Felder Rush­ing, asks, ‘‘ Life has lots of pres­sures – why in­clude them in the gar­den?’’

Rush­ing out­lines some ways to en­joy slow gar­den­ing. He sug­gests tak­ing it easy and tak­ing time to think long term about your gar­den – it doesn’t all have to be done right now.

Also, your gar­den is a place to not only work, but to put your feet up and re­lax. He sug­gests grow­ing a va­ri­ety of plants, for food, aes­thet­ics and cli­mate suitabil­ity.

‘‘Just do it,’’ seems to be his phi­los­o­phy. You don’t need to be an ex­pert, just do a bit ev­ery now and then, even if it’s in a few pots. He says this helps us to re­mem­ber to fo­cus on the here and now.

Gar­den­ing with oth­ers, es­pe­cially those who al­low you to gar­den your way, is a healthy and en­joy­able thing to do, says Rush­ing, and re­mem­ber to en­joy the rhythm of the sea­sons.

Start small: A small bed of young rain­bow sil­ver­beet and baby let­tuces is easy to main­tain.

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