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Slow Down and Garden

Yards to Paradise column by Max Phelps

Slow Down and Garden (Hurry and You Miss Life Itself)

Max Phelps RockCastles
Above: Photo courtesy of Max Phelps
Rock Castles Landscaping (KY)

Our society seems to think multitasking and scurrying around at ever faster rates is the way to keep up with everything, see it all, experience it all, do it all. With the phone never far from the ear or fingertip, with drive through lanes for everything almost, folks zip to check off more things on their daily list. But the more important things in life can get ignored, squeezed out. Gardening may be the answer. Consider slowing down and getting lost among the flowers or vegetables for awhile.

Slowing down may put some sanity back in your day. I forget who it was that famously said “no path should be straight”--but it's good advice for the walkway to your door. And also for your daily schedule. Take a little detour to smell the flowers or pick something from the garden.

The depth of one's thoughts in a quiet place, the joy of sharing a moment with the kids or the mate when there are no distractions, these are things the gadget-connected person never gets anymore. Working in the garden, even mowing the lawn if that's your chore, can free you from the phone, television, all the other distractions.

When a person can focus on something, there will be more satisfaction and clarity, but also rest. An ambling stroll in the woods can bring this desired result for me. It worked as a teenager, and it works in maturity.

Sure, we have jobs where we have to earn to pay the bills. And we may need to get the children to some activity after school from time to time. Or we may just have an impulse for a snack and not want to cook.

But, what is life if it has no purpose? And what good is it getting to a destination if you didn't enjoy the journey?

I suggest gardening, working on the landscape, or just a stroll among the trees as a way to slow down and find some peacefulness that is so elusive when you constantly run to and fro.

Seems everybody wants more, but wants to do less. As a landscaper, I get requests for “Low Maintenance” landscapes pretty often. Nobody asks for “High Maintenance” landscaping. But, taking time to prune dead flowers from a plant so that it will bloom much more as the season progresses—sometimes a little more time spent among and working with your flowers, shrubs (or vegetables if you've chosen to plant a traditional garden) can have such satisfying results later on. The 'no maintenance' landscape doesn't exist unless it's rocks and astroturf. What I cannot figure out is, unless you're allergic to sunshine and fresh air, why would you want to avoid getting out in the yard to do a little therapeutic nurturing or harvesting.

Slow down and garden.

Or, go for a walk. Or sit and talk and get to know someone. Turn off the technology (or leave it at home or at work). Play time accelerates the development of children's minds. Meditation time clarifies the mind of a stressed-out adult.

How about gardening a little together? It's not chores if it is fun and it's shared.

Completing a daily checklist may be good. Enjoying what one does along the way is living. And what so many are missing out on. Certainly we need some direction, some goals in life. But the most valuable lessons, the most wonderful experiences, are those that we will miss if we only focus on crossing the finish line with the fastest time or with the most applause. Take time to live. Take time to garden.

The author is a landscaper specializing in water features. Visit: