Salvia 'Ostfriesland' and a bumble beeWhen I am gardening I experience “flow”: the complete contented absorption in a task or activity, where I lose track of time.  There is no distraction by the minutiae of what to cook for dinner or whether I remembered to put the washing on.  There is no worry over the things that are going on in my life, no obsessing over the past or anxiety over the future.  I am just in the here-and-now, doing what I’m doing, fully in the moment.

There are so many tasks in the garden that lead to “flow”. Digging over a raised bed, carting barrowfuls of manure, weeding, sowing or pricking out seeds, deadheading dahlias, pruning shrubs, harvesting fruit or vegetables, cutting plants to the ground at the end of the growing season.  As long as the weather is reasonable, I can’t think of any job in the garden that I don’t enjoy.  Even squishing green fly on my dahlia stems has a certain pleasure: I hose them with water as I go, so I don’t even get sticky fingers.  The tasks tend to be fairly manageable, following a set order, where repetition brings a sense of competence.  I find that one thing leads to another, so I might start by tying in the climbing shoots of a clematis, and in the process of this, notice that there is a dandelion growing in the border.  I’ll take the dug-up dandelion to the compost heap, and notice that the pots in the greenhouse need watering.  Whilst I’m there I’ll steal a few tomatoes.

You don’t have to devote large chunks of time to the garden. Five minutes here and there can make a huge difference.  Just deadheading one plant will stop it setting seed and going over too quickly.

If there’s a job I need to come back to later on in the season, say divide a perennial, then I will add this to my ‘to do’ list. I hate long lists, as these feel like a burden.  At any one time, my list is no more than about 4 items.  For all other little jobs, I try to do them as soon as possible after noticing.  Most garden jobs take a matter of minutes, and if you are alert to the sensory experience of being outdoors, hearing birdsong, the touch of leaves and shoots on your skin, the smell of the earth, then this feels like a privilege and not a chore.

I aim to share the sense of peace and contentment from the garden with my readers.  If you would like to join the wonder, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of this page.

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Cosmos and cabbage white butterfly

12 Comments Add yours

  1. thefolia says:

    Happy digging in the dirt.

  2. Emma Metson says:

    You’re right about ‘flow’ Ali, once you get into it, it can be hard to stop!

    I find that during these cold months, especially those just before spring, it can be very hard to get out and do some gardening jobs. Today is technically the first day of spring, but it’s the coldest day I’ve experienced in the last 12 months!

    Sometimes it can be about timing, choosing your moment wisely.

    It certainly sounds like you get a lot accomplished when you get into a flow!

    1. Ali says:

      That’s a really good point about weather. It has to be a dry day. I once planted bulbs in the rain and definitely did not get into the flow! Came in with clay boulders on each welly and glove, and a numb face. Whereas I could have waited til the next day and enjoyed the experience.

    2. Ali says:

      Also, 5 minutes here and there is fine. You’re can get so much done in 5 mins just be walking around and noticing.

      1. Emma Metson says:

        You’re right. I think I should start doing more 5 minute jobs around the garden! Now that the days are getting longer, I’m slowly getting more light to work with once the working day is done 🙂

      2. Ali says:

        The light after work makes such a difference!

  3. Lovely. I have just written a similar post that I am about to publish actually on something very similar! It’s amazing how gardening can take your mind off anything else. I love pottering. I’ve been digging over my compost heap and putting new compost all over the garden today even though it’s pouring with rain. I just love it! Thanks for linking this post to #MyGloriousGardens. All you’re lovely posts have gone onto all my social media sites so I hope you get lots of blog love. Xx

    1. Ali says:

      That’s great! Will look out for your post.

  4. MulchMaid says:

    I’m delighted to discover your term for the way I feel, and am, when in the garden. “Flow” is the perfect word; gentle, thorough and fluid. It sounds as though it could be a term from yoga practice – is it?

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, I think it very probably does stem from that. I do love practising yoga sequences, and yes, it is that feeling you get when you are doing one thing and then another, and just enjoying the movement and the sensory experiences.

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