I have been a gardener for many years. As a child, I remember taking long walks with my Mom to identify plants, insects and birds living near our home. We had an organic vegetable garden and many flower beds in our yard. During my teen years, I tended my family’s rose garden, bulb and flower beds and mowed our three-acre yard. My love of nature and gardening continued in college where I took botany and zoology classes at Albion College. I made many trips to the Whitehouse Nature Center to observe and work on projects and ultimately, I graduated with a Biology degree. But I took a long break from gardening and have been wanted to get back into it.
During a recent stay at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, I took a one-hour walking tour of the gardens led by the head gardener. We visited the Tea Garden, Wedding Garden, Secret Garden, Tapestry Garden and Herb Garden among others. The tour reminded me that gardening and walking through gardens such as the Meditation Labyrinth are mindful exercises. I enjoyed the peacefulness and learning about the various gardens, their purposes and histories and the plants.
When I returned home, I worked in one of my gardens for hours. I added soil, weeded and tilled. Then I planted several annuals in shades of pink to add color. I added a gazing ball and a garden flag. Keeping in mind some of the advice the gardener taught us, I tried not to worry too much about what had not worked in the past in my garden. Since I had been away from it for a few days on my trip, I looked at it with fresh eyes. Once the weeds were out, I realized there was more space for flowers than I thought. It looks amazing and it brings me great joy as I look at it from my kitchen sink.
Gardening is restorative for me. It is a perfect way to get outside and focus on nature. Gardening is one of the earliest methods of mindfulness. The Chinese believe that the making of a garden is an active way to achieve alignment with the universe. The garden is a retreat and a quiet place to find relief from stress. It is also a place to think. Without a garden, one scarcely grasps the reason for existence.