How ‘Gardening In The Micro’ Enables You to Experience Mindfulness and Joy


Can you imagine feeling like you’ve created a delightful feast for the eyes with only 4 window boxes?

I can.

I always thought that nothing would replace my love of designing large, sweeping beds.  I used to savor the expansive, long distance views at the end of a long day of being in my garden. I would literally flush with excitement when visiting an outstanding public garden or when opening the pages of a beautifully executed gardening magazine (I still do)!

But guess what? The yearning for that type of larger than life beauty has been replaced by something else. Gardening ‘in the ‘micro’.

Each morning, I can’t wait to check my garden before the pounding rays of the sun take over. I survey my small area of paradise as I walk out the door, take a deep breath, and register the colors that quickly dazzle my eyes like a kaleidoscope.

Then like a child scrambling to get her hand into the cookie jar, I scurry over to the window boxes to see what has been happening over the past 24 hours. There are always surprises.

I nuzzle up to the plants  and then something happens. It’s as if my I’ve  entered a jungle fairyland. The painters…Gaugain, Glackens, and Van Gogh…have influenced the way I perceive colors. But this spring, it is these windowboxes that are opening my senses up to a new way of using colors.

In this micro-jungle, anything goes. Rather than designing with a sense of symmetry, balance, and repetition, I let it rip. My intent is simply to have fun and let nature lead the way.

And am I ever! I’m in awe how overnight so much happens. How the tendrils of a vine might have wrapped itself around the leaves of another plant. Or how the deep purple flowers of the fluted silver leaved pelargonium and gazanzia contrast perfectly with the yellow leaved beans.

After taking off a few dead leaves, and checking the vines draping over the outer ledge of the wall, I do a slow walk about with my camera. And then I begin shooting. Slowly and quietly.

I take a deep breath and experience a feeling of gratitude for being here in this urban paradise…in this moment.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned from ‘Gardening In The Micro’:

1. Slow down. Even if you have a slew of gardening tasks that need to get done, set aside at least 5-10 minutes to gaze, touch, talk to (yes I do), and photograph plants.

2. Develop a beginner’s eye. All of us get stuck in seeing or perceiving things in the  ‘same old, same old’ way. You can train yourself by looking at even one plant from different angles.

3. Be grateful. Communing with nature is an opportunity to experience gratitude for all of the wonderful things you have in your life.

4. Be Mindful. I’ve written extensively about this in my recently updated edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening. But over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered that gardening in the micro’ is a perfect setting for me to practice this state of being.

5. Play. Let go of expectations and perfectionism. Take your ego out of the mix and allow the process of gardening to become your muse.

**Please note: this is an updated version of an article I wrote 3 years ago. I chose to re-publish it because of its message. I am spending much of my time these days coaching  high-performing women 50+on how to live their dream and create a rich and meaningful life; one filled with joy and well-being. So many of us gardeners are blessed that gardening is a conduit for us to experience a sense of peacefulness, beauty, and even rapture. But even we can use reminders–in a world where most of us are over-scheduled and stressed out–to slow down, breathe in the glory of nature, and open to the possibilities of miracles that await you every day of your life.

If you enjoyed this article, please pass the message onto your friends. It’s good karma!!



from Gardening Gone Wild

How to Water Your Summer Garden

If you live where summers are hot and dry, irrigation or the lack thereof can mean life or death to prized plants. These tips will help your garden survive the dog days. 

— Check your automatic irrigation system. Trust me, it needs it. Watch for leafy growth blocking sprayers, clogged riser heads, and plugged drip lines.

— Pay particular attention to soil moisture during heat waves and desiccating winds.

— If the root zone goes dry, supplement auto irrigation with hose watering.

— If the ground is concrete-hard, leave a hose dripping overnight to create an underground cone of moist soil.

— Use a hose-end sprayer—ideally one with multiple settings—to direct water where you want it.

— Take the opportunity when hose-watering to blast pests, fallen leaves and dirt out of leaf axils.

— Water early in the morning or late in the day. Note to desert gardeners: Watering in midday heat can literally cook roots. (Eek!)

— Trees and shrubs want water where their canopies would naturally direct rainfall: around the perimeter of the plant.

— A hose lying in summer sun may contain scalding water. You already know this, but your house-sitter may not, so be sure to mention it.

— If you have a hose-full of hot water, aim a fine spray skyward. Droplets will cool by the time they hit leaves.

— To help hold moisture in the soil, cover bare ground with mulch, gravel or fallen leaves.

Specifically for succulents ~ all of the above, plus…

Aeoniums, dudleyas and other succulents that have closed their rosettes should be watered minimally or not at all, lest dormant roots rot. The plants will revive when the rains return. (They may not make it until then, though, if in full sun. If so, shade them.)

See my latest videoSucculents, Sun and Summer ~

What about potted succulents? From my website’s FAQ’s:  Aim to keep soil about as moist as a wrung-out sponge. About once a week should do it. Water thoroughly to soak the roots and flush salts. Let common sense prevail: Water more during hot, dry spells and less or not at all during periods of high humidity, cool temperatures and rain.

Find more info in my books: Page 56 of Succulents Simplified, pp. 219-222 of Succulent Container Gardens, and pp. 134-135 of Designing with Succulents (second edition).

from Gardening Gone Wild