In a fast-paced world where we are all short on time, gardening can easily become a chore. To avoid this, it is necessary, according to Felder Rushing, the author of Slow Gardening: A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and Seasons, to create a garden in our own personal style, that we can actually enjoy taking care of. Here are some thoughts on this inspiring paradigm shift...
A perfect garden?
Everyone would like a dense lawn without weeds; flowerbeds filled with healthy, brightly-colored flowers. The reality is often quite different. Why? Because the garden is not a simple extension of the house. It’s a living system subject to environmental pressures over which we have little control. We must therefore learn to tolerate a certain degree of imperfection. The perfect garden does not exist, and that’s good! Aphids that attack your geraniums will provide a feast for the ladybugs, but they’ll make some leaves turn yellow as well. Nature takes a while to regain its balance, and this leaves a few traces. It’s much easier to accept these imperfections when a garden is not seen as a decorative element, subject to rigid aesthetic rules. Can we, for example, learn to see the dead leaves as a valuable source of organic matter for the soil and not as a nuisance? Why not...
An eco-friendly garden
To have a beautiful garden, one quickly realizes that it is better to respect nature. Ladybugs and hoverflies eat aphids, so it’s not beneficial to spray them with insecticide. Soil microorganisms break down organic matter, releasing nutrients that feed the plants, so it’s advantageous to feed the soil with compost. Furthermore, gardening is a good opportunity to engage in ecologically sound practices (composting, collecting rainwater to water the plants...) that surely will make a difference as all gardeners follow suit.
As Rushing puts it so well: “Life is full of stressful situations – why put pressure on ourselves when it comes time to garden?” I would also say: Slow and steady wins the race. The most beautiful landscapes are a long-term endeavor: you have to devote the necessary time, to not underestimate the task or start it too late. And, of course, enjoy every step of the way. Anyway, nature evolves at its own pace. However much you pull on the tree you just planted, it won’t grow any faster! It will take its own time to reach its adult size. And it’s a good bet that it will be your children or even your grandchildren who’ll benefit the most from it. At first glance, one might think that the followers of Slow Gardening® are lazy gardeners. But it’s just the opposite! When you love what you do, you put in the time it takes. This does not mean we should kill ourselves in the process. So I’ll continue this conversation in a future blog where we discuss “tricks” that can save time when maintaining your garden. Time you can spend...on more gardening!
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