gardening and happiness


Gardening can be a wonderful experience - but you can’t count on it.

This evening as I gardened I appreciatively breathed in the scents of oregano, wormwood, honeysuckle and philadelphus wafting in the damp air. I was aware of clouds of mosquitoes and the rain starting again. I made a mental note of the weeds growing in between the bricks on the paths. I heard the familiar music of cicadas. I only stopped gardening and came inside when it became too dark to see.

Yesterday I decided to liberate the paths that had disappeared underneath the foliage of plants blithely outgrowing their allotted spaces. It was not a blissful gardening session. Instead of focusing on path clearing, I did a bit of weeding, a bit of pruning and a whole lot of stressing.

There is a lot of talk and writing about the health-giving and serenity–inducing powers of gardening. I don’t think gardening can make you calm. If you are already calm gardening can certainly enhance it. It all depends on your mental state. If you’re angry you’ll garden angrily. If you’re stressed like I was yesterday you’ll garden with anxiety.


Tonight I was capable of mindfulness. Just sweeping paths and placing the sweepings in the compost heap made me happy. It was a blissful, calm, meditative gardening session.




Comments

  1. That gorgeous path winding through the garden and bordered with plants is worth all the angst, hard work, etc.etc. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

    ReplyDelete
  2. One way to not see all the work that needs to be done - is to post pictures on your blog. Other, fresh eyes see the good first. We know about the work, we can see thru and past that ;>) ... I have roses that need watering, the buds are WAITING!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are welcome to our snow if it helps. Love gardening but I see too many faults to be calm.

    ReplyDelete
  4. From my experience, gardening can cause serenity as much as it can cause stress. I think it depends on a few more factors than your mental state before entering the garden. During a drought and one of the hottest summers on record, I doubt too many gardeners are lacking a certain amount of stress and fear over losing precious plants, but given a good year with little plant tending necessary, gardening is certainly more pleasant.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Catmint, Your evening sounds wonderful, the kind I enjoy here in May and June when the garden is alive and thriving. The simplest things can be the most rewarding.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Catmint, What a romantic path...leading who knows where and bounded by a blowsy collection of pretty perennials. This has transported me back [or forwards] to early summer...complete with scents!!

    I know exactly what you mean about gardening reflecting one's mood of the moment. Better not to even go out into it when stressed is my motto...just reach for a gin and tonic!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The name, philadelphus sounded wonderful. I googled to check it out. Hmm... beautiful flower... I am sure the scent is heavenly.

    A beautiful garden like yours will certainly make task like sweeping and weeding enjoyable. Yes, I can imagine sightings of pretty flowers and gorgeous shrubs along the way when you were sweeping the paths ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think it is so lovely how you just focused on the sweeping and putting away of detritus. It can be overwhelming if we try to take in the big picture each time we enter our gardens. I love how you began this post with the fragrance of plants . . . we can lose ourselves that way but certainly clouds of mosquitos would be stressful! Your path looks so inviting with all the lush fluffy greens luring one into the garden. We can tune into nature and forget about our plans for awhile . . . I try to walk around in the garden to see and feel the place and then focus on one task at a time. Weeding can be very meditative. We all need to be patient with our garden and ourselves. In Japan there is a custom to install a type of small hole near the front entrance of the house, so that you can throw your negative energy into that space before entering your home. I love that and realize it is not always possible. Perhaps there should be such a hole near a garden entrance too. ;>)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mindfulness is something I'm always seeking, and especially in the garden.
    Thank you for stopping by to comment on S. leucantha: I'm not sure if I realized that you did not have hummingbirds, or perhaps I'd forgotten. In my Chicago garden, in the heart of the city, I had one hummer visit shortly before I moved West. As it was such a rare occurrence, it was that much more wondrous.
    It's that time of year again, when I'm fantasizing about traveling in your direction;~D
    Wishing you a happy holiday season.... Alice

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm sorry for a stressful day in the garden, Catmint! I love to go out in the summer evening after the kids are in bed and deadhead a bit in the quiet. So relaxing after a busy day with boisterous little children (who are so good, but so loud!).

    ReplyDelete
  11. Glad you had a calm, meditative, and mindful time. I agree that if you're angry, you garden angrily. I think one day I was aware that I was angry about something and rather than being calmed in the garden, I worked for hours ruminating over whatever the issue was - stuck inside my own angry head.

    ReplyDelete
  12. hi catmint,
    we are just starting out on our garden adventure, growing veg and flowers in our suburban frontyard. Your garden looks beautiful. I was especially envious of your lavender, we ahve just harvested much of our to make an experimental batch of lavender champagne...i would love more. happy gardening
    funkyfrontyardfarmers.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Gardening puts me in a trance. I forget about everything. I want to sweep up that path! What a beautiful "journey." I guess I'll be shoveling (snow) instead for awhile.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think the trick if you are stressed is to do something simple and repetitive in the garden until you feel calm - easier said than done of course!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Lovely to hear from you ... as long as you're not trying to sell me something.