The signs are everywhere. The temperatures are rising, the first signs of buds are appearing, and in some places, we can even see the points of leaves almost magically pushing through the soil. With a contented sigh, many of us will stray into our gardens, now, assessing what needs to be done in the coming few months. One thing’s for sure, we do so spurred by a deep-seated bond, one reflecting the innate connections with our gardening world.
Gardening can be truly serene. It often provides those peaceful and prolonged times when we can be in touch with ourselves and the meanings that guide us throughout our lives. When I first go out into my garden in the spring, it soon finds me clipping back the old plants—the sedum and foxglove. We snuggle into a comfortable spot and begin snipping the old stalks, our minds not necessarily thinking about anything. In a way, it’s almost like we reach some sort of meditative state. We may not be “thinking” about anything at all, yet the repetitive and rhythmic nature of gardening takes us away, almost leading to another state of consciousness.
The act of gardening is a pastime that does wonders in reducing stress. By reaching a meditative state, we are largely distracted as our minds become consumed by what we are doing. Hours can pass by unnoticed as we ignore all the concerns and worries customarily cluttering our minds. And stress is not something to be disregarded. Our entire system—muscular, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and nervous—is affected in some manner. However, even after just half an hour of gardening, we’ll finish and feel rejuvenated and refreshed. We shouldn’t be surprised.
Like its ability to curtail stress, gardening also urges patience. What we are ultimately saying when we’re feeling impatient is “I don’t have the time for this” and most importantly, “I’m angry about it.” Some say that emotions including anger, irritation, blaming, and shaming are all the opposite of patience. This is why we’re told that when we’re feeling impatient, take a few deep breaths. Let it pass. But gardening instils in us the need to wait and take the time. Time is almost the beauty of it. After all, it not only takes time to plant our gardens. It takes an equal amount of time, if not more, for it to grow. We know there is no point in being impatient. In fact, there is every point in not minding the wait, as our reward will far outweigh any amount of time we had to wait.
As we go out into our gardens, it is impossible not to envision what we’d like to do in the coming year. Gardening is never something that comes to an end. We’re constantly experimenting with new plants and exploring different techniques by which to show them off. In doing so, gardens offer a blank canvas to constantly change, as well as create. The sky is the limit.
Our gardens provide an opportunity to expand and exercise all our sensations. Roaming into our gardens, we are overwhelmed by the perfumed aroma, the visual splendour, and the myriad sounds of the birds and bees interacting with the panoply of plants and flowers. Flowers that have dropped to the ground, we pick up, feeling their velvety contours. There is no end to the sensory experience.
To Be in Awe
It is through our interaction and interplay with these plants that they have come to be. We could never force them to do our bidding and still yield this sensual splendour. Rather, we need to somehow work with them, preparing the soil, watering them regularly, removing any plants that can impede their growth. When we witness the results, we are in awe. And so, we are able to place our lives in perspective, recognising we are in touch with the vastness of the earth and by extension, the universe. Thus we humbly note how we are soothingly a part of something that is indeed greater than ourselves. We are a part of the whole.
At is very simplest and most magical, gardening also offers us a chance to be of service. Certainly we are to the others with whom we may share the fruits of our efforts. There is no greater joy than to receive a fruit or vegetable that has been formed graciously by the love of the giver and of the earth. More so, our efforts also serve the earth, as the remaining leaves and stems of the plant eventually return to the life-giving soil. The minerals and nutrients will then be ready to spur the growth of the following year.
Casting a Spell
Gardening is a pastime that never fails to evoke a calming effect. Peace. Too often, our lives are tightly entangled by any number of situations. Each demands our attention and we find ourselves caught in a thorny thicket of unending thoughts. We seek relief. And when we wander into our garden and kneel down, something wondrous begins to happen. We begin to weed or cut back any of the unwanted over-growth and before we know it, the spell is cast and we are gone, leaving our trouble behind. Such is the spirit of gardening.