“The Most Important Time Spent in the Garden is the Time Spent Not Gardening”

by Paul James

The quote above is my own. And while it may not pass for profundity, it captures the essence of what I think is the most important lesson I’ve learned in 40 years of success and failure as a gardener.

Naturally, I’m not suggesting for a moment that you don’t garden. What I am suggesting is that you spend time in the garden now and then doing nothing more than observing. No pruners. No trowel. No watering wand. Just you (and perhaps a beverage) strolling through the garden and paying close attention to the wonders that surround you.

Try it for the first time early in the morning. As you stroll, deliberately change your perspective. Look at plants from the top down, from the side, and from the bottom up. Examine the undersides of their leaves, and be prepared to be startled by critters that like to hide there.

Feel the textures of leaves and stems. Crush them and smell them. Do likewise with flowers. And yes, even weeds.

Flip over rocks to see who and what’s hiding under them. Scratch the soil surface and see what lies an inch below. Pull up a plant that’s seen better days and pay close attention to its root system.

Then try it again at night, ideally when the moon is full, and get ready to witness a whole new world, one that can be as different as, well, day and night.

Do those things and chances are you’ll never see your garden in the same way again, and you’ll begin to understand the interconnectedness of all the living things that call your garden home. But most importantly, you’ll begin to develop a genuine kinship with the world around you. And that’s time well spent.