As a gardener, I count myself lucky to have worked in some stunningly beautiful locations throughout my career. There has been a good deal of heavy and physical labour I can assure you, but there has also been many times when my gardening activity would simply fall in the areas of mental stimulation or mindful observation.
Throughout my gardening life though, I’m drawn to recall that whilst many of my most enjoyable moments have been in the midst of serious graft and team effort, there have also been countless happy moments spent gardening in complete isolation. Even in some of my biggest gardening venues, there have been moments when it has been just me, immersed in designed landscape and charmed by the sounds of wildlife.
When I stop and think therefore about the importance of gardens and gardening to me personally, I can easily split the whole into two parts. Firstly, has been the value of all those moments shared with some very special people, be it in the working environment, whilst visiting gardens for recreation, or whilst at home enjoying a memory making time with my family.
Secondly, and amounting to significantly more time than the first, is the importance of those many moments spent working alone with my thoughts. Those moments, even if I didn’t realise it at the time were vitally important in providing a balance, and have provided opportunity to soothe my soul yes, to consider and form strategies yes; but most often they have simply given time to be at peace and to study how exquisitely amazing the many elements of a garden can be.
All things considered then, whilst I’ve become accustomed to the physical aspects of tending gardens, I have learnt that it is equally, if not more important to consider the wellbeing benefits that gardens can provide. The value to me therefore of engaging with a garden hasn’t always come from the doing, but often from simply observing it, from mulling it over and talking about it, from seeing how wildlife interacts with it, and from opening my mind to the real values of the garden and its connectivity with the world around.
If I can therefore offer a morsel of advice for anyone, it would be to make sure you get into a garden, any garden, regularly, and that you pause there to consider the elements that are around you. Close your eyes for a while and allow your senses time to tune into the environment. Try if you can to make time to ‘be in the moment’ as people say. You can do this in a public park or garden, where no maintenance issues exist for you, in a show garden, from a balcony or in a favourite part of your own garden.
All that matters I guess, is that you make time to be there, to immerse yourself to a degree that you’re happy with, and you simply enjoy the garden both for itself, and for yourself.
Gary Webb is the Author of Gardening Ways