Monday, 14 April 2014

an outdoor life … why do we garden?..

“The earth is our origin and destination.  The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart.  The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows.  When we emerge from our offices, rooms and houses, we enter our natural element.  We are children of the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home.”  John O’Donohue

At this time of year I take every opportunity I can to spend time out of doors – so gardening, as a pastime, is ideal for me.  But, if I am honest, for six months of the year, when the weather is good, although a lot of gardening activity goes on – I do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time lounging about – drinking home-made cordials and tea, and sitting in the shade reading (my fair skin doesn’t take too kindly to an excess of sun).

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Because, let’s face it – gardening itself is hardly restful – it seems innate in us, as we wander around that we always find something that needs doing – the odd weed to be pulled, a plant to be staked, a pot that needs watering -  you know how it is.  But  to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours is just as rewarding.

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On Friday the weather was just how I like it – warm and bright, and not too hot to be uncomfortable – I sat with a cup of tea and my book (not very well-written, full of cliches, yet with an engaging plot), but kept putting it down, more interested in what was going on around me.  Surrounded by blossom and birdsong I watched a blackbird to-ing and fro-ing with a beak full of worms to feed its young; a humming bird hawk moth hovering over the forget-me-nots dipping its long proboscis into the centre of the tiny flowers; a peacock butterfly looking for nectar – to me, these things are all part and parcel of the outdoor life and being a gardener.

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A garden gratifies all the senses – to touch the silken petals of a rose, to smell the different fragrances of flowers as you pass by, the sight of the jewel patchwork of the flower borders,  the sound of the wind rustling through the trees and the song of the creatures of the air, are all good reasons for why we garden.

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There are those who denounce us:-

“Horticulture is just a pointless way of passing time until you die”  Jeremy Clarkson

“There is more to growing old than just being interested in geraniums” Mary Beard

But, we also have our champions:-

“The garden is a joy for all ages to engage in, and isn’t limited to putting in geraniums, sitting back in a deck chair, and waiting lazily for it to grow”.  Alan Titchmarsh

My garden is a respite, a solace – a place to breathe.

This extract from The Rules of Life by Richard Templar says it all ~

Leave a little space for yourself each day:

So what are you going to do with that time?  Answer:  absolutely nothing.  And I do mean nothing.  This isn’t time for lying in the bath, sitting on the loo, meditating, reading the newspapers, or sleeping.  This is a little space for you, a breather, a time to sit still and do absolutely nothing.  Just breathe. I find ten minutes sitting in the garden just breathing is a fantastic boost a couple of times a day.  I sit there, thinking nothing, not doing, not worrying, just being, while I appreciate the pleasure of being alive.  Keep it simple.  Keep it bare.  Keep it pure.

‘Til next time – have a good week and happy gardening.

 

62 comments:

  1. So many reasons to garden!! And those that denounce are in my opinion a bit disconnected! Such a beautiful day by you with those blue skies!!! And your garden is stunning! Happy day to you!!!! Nicole xo

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    1. We are having a spell of really lovely weather at the moment, this morning quite a heavy frost but with bright sunshine - and you are right how can anyone not enjoy looking out at a colourful garden.

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  2. Hello Elaine,

    It sounds to us as if you have the perfect balance of doing work in the garden and enjoying the fruits of those labours. It is not at all easy to do. Indeed, in our gardening days (now no longer) we rarely sat in the garden, too conscious of the work needing to be done to relax and daydream.

    But, how we love to daydream now.....or, to use our current expression.....while away our days as lazy tarts!

    As you say so well, a garden is a feast for all the senses so enjoy it we should and must. You are showing us all the way!

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    1. Taking time to smell the flowers, as they say.

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  3. I can't sit still for more than five or ten minutes when I go outside to relax in my garden. I have to keep getting up to go and look at things - a flower that's recently opened or a bug that's just landed on something. There's always something new to see.

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    1. That's what being out in the garden is all about though - always something interesting to catch our eye.

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  4. I like the books of Santa Montefiore very feminine but a nice easy read, I garden for the sheer physical exertion it provides, weird but I find it fulfilling

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    1. I'm not so keen on the physical exertion any more but it is very satisfying when you see a row of freshly dug soil.

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  5. When did anything sensible come from Jeremy Clarkson's mouth?

    I would rather have an energetic session in the garden any day rather than going to the gym and watching a TV screen whilst walking but getting nowhere.

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    1. At least exercise in the garden is purposeful with something good to eat or beautiful to see at the end of it.

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  6. I sat outside with my coffee this morning. It must have been only five minutes, if that, but sitting there looking over the results of yesterday's endeavours was bliss.

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  7. Jeremy Clarkson! A schoolboy who never grew up. What would he know about gardening???
    I like the idea of doing nothing, but I incline towards the OCD, so whenever I sit down to so-called "relax", I always see something else that needs doing!

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    1. I think he just says these things for effect - he seems to have a jaundiced opinion on everything. I can see OCD being a problem where relaxing is concerned.

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  8. I love gardening most of the year, but sitting in the garden with a cup of tea and a book is a favourite occupation too.

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    1. Sometimes I think you just need to sit in the garden and soak it all in - take time to appreciate all that you have achieved.

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  9. I rarely sit in the sun but that's exactly what I did on Friday! It was so good to feel the sun on my face as I sat and read after having my lunch outdoors. I sometimes think how much more time and money I'd have if I didn't 'manage' the community gardens here but then this is what I enjoy and it's pure pleasure when neighbours and strangers make nice remarks about the gardens … and if I wasn't doing this I'd be spending money on crochet wool!!

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    1. I can't think of a nicer way of spending my time - can't imagine what I would do without a garden - and isn't it good that other people appreciate all the effort you have put into making a beautiful space.

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  10. I don't get the chance to sit in my garden. Front yard gets too hot and back yard has too many bugs and mosquitoes. But I love to sit on my balcony and crochet. Reading is reserved for bed. This way I can't kill myself if I doze off while reading :)

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    1. It's a shame that you can't sit out - nothing better than sitting under the dappled shade of a tree - but sitting on the balcony is better than nothing.

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  11. Your spring garden looks wonderful. I find weeding, or pruning very therapeutic. I lose all sense of time. I also know that I don't spend enough time just sitting in the garden - note to self that I must make the effort.

    Not today though - rain at last.

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    1. Glad you have finally got your rain - I am sure the garden will appreciate it.

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  12. Just being -- the key to life. :)

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  13. Beautiful...and I can almost hear the birds singing as I read this post.

    Jen

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    1. It's is a good time of year when everything starts coming to life - what could be better.

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  14. Bernard Levin once said "I've never seen an acre of greenery that wouldn't look better under a foot of concrete". One really wonders about the sanity of such people!

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    1. Everything under concrete doesn't bear thinking about - what a stupid thing to come out with.

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  15. The garden to me is my private little corner of the world. Wandering around it first thing in the morning, mug of coffee in hand, looking to see what has appeared over night feeds the soul.
    I would never heed Jeremy Clarkson's words, all he is interested in is cars, and more cars - what a bore.

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    1. Exactly my feelings too Rosemary. And as for JC, well, who takes any notice of him anyway.

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  16. I couldn't agree more! Being outside and in the garden is so therapeutic to the soul. It shifts negative energy into positive. Lately, we have been homeschooling in the garden.

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    1. Teaching outside in the garden must be a wonderful place for children to learn about nature, learning and fun at the same time.

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  17. A most enjoyable post and lovely photos. I don't need a reason to garden it's just an innate desire to be outside getting dirt under my fingernails. It is without doubt one of life's best simple pleasures.
    As you say a garden gratifies all the senses. What more could we ask for.
    Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks Flighty.The weather has been so lovely it seems a shame not to be outdoors doing what we love best.

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  18. What a silly man JC is! Like you I like to do lots of lounging in the shade with a good book and a cup of tea especially in the height of summer - there is always something in the garden to delight:)

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    1. There is nothing better is there? I am sure JC says these outlandish things on purpose just to get people's backs up.

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  19. I think you have one of the most beautiful garden blogs. The photos are outstanding and I enjoy your writing.

    Not much would distract me in your garden.

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    1. Hi Cheryl - long time no see, last time I heard you had stopped blogging - thanks for stopping by with such a nice comment.

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  20. I love being out in the garden it always improves my mood! Your garden looks so lovely and a great place to sit and read a book by Santa Montefiore too. Sarah x

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    1. I relish this sort of weather - indoor jobs can wait till it rains again.

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  21. Oh I just love this post Elaine and specially the extract from Rules of Life - how true this is. The funny thing is (or should I say sad) we spend a lot of time working in the garden but hardly ever sit and relax in it. However when we were away this last couple of days in our campervan, what did we do - we sat and relaxed outside in the warmth of the sun as well as the cloudy, chilly moments and actually remarked that if we were at home there was no way that we'd be sitting outside with our coats on in the garden! How mad is that.
    Patricia x

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    1. I think when you are at home there are so many distractions, jobs to be done etc. When you are away you just concentrate on being more relaxed and enjoying the change of routine. My husband never ever sits in the garden - he is always up and doing something.

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  22. Elaine, its nice to enjoy the garden too as well as to work in it. I like to sit in the sunniest spot with a cuppa and just take it all in but sometimes as you say it is difficult to enjoy when you see things that need doing. I see gardening as a delight and never a chore though.

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    1. I agree Anne - I enjoy pottering about, having a bit of a sit to admire my handiwork and rewarding myself with a cuppa - it works every time.

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  23. I loved that first quote, how very true, we often forget that we are children of the soil. I too love to sit in the garden, I try to every morning as I take my tea outdoors and like you I just love being a part of it all, and there is always so much going on. A lovely post.xxx

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    1. Thanks Snowbird. Sounds like we're birds of a feather - except I don't have two lovely but bonkers dogs to keep me company like you do.

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  24. Your post brings brings this poem to mind Elaine - you may already be familiar with it but if not I think that you will appreciate it : http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/leisure/

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    1. I had forgotten all about that poem Anna
      What is this life if, full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.

      It mirrors perfectly what I have been talking about

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  25. I can't think of anywhere I would rather be xxxxxx

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  26. What a lovely post to read I also love Santa montefiore. Have read the French Gardener, The butterfly Box and have just bought The Affair. Will call again.

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  27. What a beautiful post Elaine. The first quote I knew, but not the last, and isn't that the best advice ... to spend time outdoors just being :)

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  28. I'm a bit behind with reading blogs this week and I've so enjoyed catching up with yours - this is such a lovely post. I love the first quote - so true. I'm definitely an 'outdoors' person, at this time of year I can't be anywhere else, either. I envy you the sight of the hummingbird hawk-moth - I haven't seen one for ages.

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    1. Thanks Wendy sadly I have been unable to capture it on film they just dart about too fast - enjoy the rest of the weekend.

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  29. Such a beautiful post Elaine.....your words are so poetic.

    We all garden for different reasons....for me it is wildlife, and the sense of peace the garden brings. I intend to garden until the day I die :)

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    1. Thank you Cheryl that's very kind. Wildlife is important to me too and I do try to plant for bees and butterflies and of course we feed the birds all year round as well.

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  30. Such a lovely post Elaine, I can't imagine not spending time just sitting in the garden, I need frequent breaks anyway, but that time spent just watching, listening, drinking tea, pondering what to do next, what to move where, trying to work out where the blackbirds are nesting - it is, to me, every bit as much part of gardening as weeding, planting, sowing. I love to swing in the hammock with a book though I admit the book often gets put down as I daydream about what could be or just enjoy watching the sky. I know I am in a bad place if I find I cannot sit out and enjoy the garden without feeling an overpowering need to get up and do, urgently, everything.

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    1. I think I am inherently lazy - sometimes just soaking everything in is all I want to do - and I don't feel guilty about it at all - other times pottering about from one job to another gives me pleasure - a nice balance I think.

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  31. such a lovely post. I do find it hard to be grumpy when I'm gardening, it's as if it magically improves my mood x

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