If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden.”
– Chinese Proverb
So we’re all isolated, at home, many cut off from the routines and purpose a job confers. Worrying about relatives. Dealing with bored children. Not knowing what the ‘new normal’ will bring.
It seems almost wrong to find anything good about such a dire situation but… if you’re a lucky one take a look out of your window, you’ve got a garden. There lies solace, purpose, perspective, entertainment and peace.
It’s spring, the time of growth. The garden is teeming with diversion and jobs for all. Kids can plant seeds, there’s weeding to do. I wouldn’t mind betting there’s leaves still to rake. In fact I hope there are because that means you’ve got an insect friendly garden and last autumn’s leaves have lain as a home and shelter for myriads of small creeping and flying creatures, keeping then safe over winter.
And after all the jobs (of course there isn’t an after-all-the-jobs, a garden just keeps breeding new ones, but let’s pretend) you can indulge in something we hardly ever do, slow down. Just sit. With a cup of something hot, or cold. With a book, or not. And just… be. Feel this warm spring sun on your face. Look slowly at the bed you’ve weeded, the seeds the kids have planted. Slow down. It’s wonderful. Slowly your anxieties lower as you look around your garden. You start to see how it will unfold over this year. The buds on the shrubs and trees promising the heady, slow heat of high summer, when the fresh acid greens of the early summer leaves darken and the air hangs still as crystal, and tiny insects dart though patches of sunlight.
The bulbs are enjoying the sunshine the bare trees allow to reach them, they’ll be blazing for some weeks now and as the leaves open they’ll all slowly return to their sleep beneath the soil until next spring.
Time slows when we have nothing much to do, it’s a precious gift that we often mistake for boredom. But there can be no boredom in a garden. Instead there’s peace, and an inner stillness that can take us in its arms and help us through these difficult times.
A garden is a state of mind
For those who don’t have a garden, or a balcony, or indoor plants, here’s the next best thing – a starter list of poems you can find online about gardens. To love a garden or a poem you need to do the same thing, slow down, take your time and let it slowly unfold within you, like a rosebud opening into a full flower.
“I own a solace shut within my heart,
A garden full of many a quaint delight
And warm with drowsy, poppied sunshine; bright
Flaming with lilies out of whose cups dart
With powdered wings”
Extract from Behind A Wall, by Amy Lowell 1874-1925
(OK, it may be a bit rich for some modern tastes but what a wonderful image).
So to close -here’s some more wonderful garden poems you can easily find online. But don’t read them on the screen. Print them off, walk away from your screen and sit in a comfortable chair, or lie on your bed and let time slow down as you open up and let these poems into your heart.
‘The Garden’ by Andrew Marvell
‘Come into the Garden, Maud’ Alfred Tennyson
‘The Glory of the Garden’, by Rudyard Kipling
‘Their Lonely Betters’, by W H Auden
‘Out In The Garden, by Katherine Mansfield
‘Of His Mistress upon Occasion of Her Walking in a Garden’, by Henry Constable
‘In The Garden’, by Emily Dickinson
In the midst of the uncertainty we’re continuing to design so if we can help you to create a sanctuary or just a quiet corner contact us
See our blog From Winter to Wonder to see how a garden designer can help with your garden