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.