Garden Photo of the Day

Jordan’s Mindful Garden

Cultivating peace and calm

Photo: ©Ashley Drody Photography 2021.

Today we’re visiting Jordan Mara’s garden north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

My garden is a little different than most—and that’s because my relationship with gardening had an unusual beginning.

overview of the gardenRather than getting into gardening for the beauty it brings, or for fresh vegetables and herbs, I discovered gardening during an incredibly anxious time in my life. As a result, it quickly became where I could go to find peace, calm, and restoration. And over the years, I’ve started to shape it into a Mindful Garden where each of the senses is activated: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste.

a man standing in a wooden greenhouse

HEARING. The first sense I look to activate when beginning an afternoon of gardening is hearing. I’ll spend a minute or two with my eyes closed and a hot coffee in hand, simply counting the number of unique sounds I can hear. At first, it’s the car passing my house, a power tool a few houses down. But as I slow down, I hear the subtle rustling of leaves in the trees, the river gently running a few blocks away, a hummingbird buzzing overhead. Within a few short minutes, I feel miles removed from the business of life and fully immersed in the endless life of the garden.

strawberry leaf
SIGHT. As I open my eyes, I shift my attention to activating my sense of sight and taking in the garden. While I start by observing the entirety of the garden, I quickly focus on specific plants to notice their beautiful and intricate details. I choose a bed to inspect closely—turning leaves over to see if any little critters (for better or worse!) have chosen to call a kale leaf home, exploring the strawberry flowers to see which might be pollinating, and observing the new vertical growth on my cucumber vines.

collecting plants from the garden

TOUCH. While there is no shortage of plants and features to touch throughout the garden, I’ve turned my mindfulness practice on this front to what’s beneath my feet. This is a project that is going through its next phase, as I am in the midst of building a barefoot path for 2022. Each 10 to 15 feet will have a different path texture: ground covers upon entering the garden, followed by wood chips, then moss, and who knows what after that? This shift in texture will serve as another sensory activation to slow down from the hustle and bustle of life and enjoy the subtleties throughout the garden.

Lavender bushes
SMELL. As I round the path to harvest a few goodies to enjoy in a salad, I take another minute or two to run my hand along a few plants—or fully bury my face in a bloom of flowers. While the roses, lavender, sweet peas, and rosemary provide a very distinct and potent fragrance, I get equal enjoyment from the subtleties of a healthy tomato vine, rich humus-filled soil, and even fresh rainwater in the rain catchment.

Arugula and Spinach and other greens
Photo: ©Ashley Drody Photography 2021

TASTE. Lastly, I couldn’t end a stroll through my garden without enjoying the fruits (and leaves) of my labor! While the obvious choices of strawberries and raspberries are more commonly enjoyed before they even make it onto the patio table, I also get a great deal of enjoyment from trying different leafy greens such as arugula and spinach at different stages of their growing cycle to see how the flavor changes and evolves.

And before I know it, the rest of the world feels light years away as I come to the close of a stroll through my Mindful Garden. With all my senses activated and immersed, I feel rejuvenated, recharged, and ready for the rest of the day!

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Comments

  1. Garden1953 12/08/2021

    Beautifully written. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts of the garden. Peace to you.

    1. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

      Thank so much for the beautiful comment! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love!

  2. Jay_Sifford 12/08/2021

    Jordan, what you describe is great. So many of us take way too many things for granted, and you've learned the art of slowing down and enjoying things for what they are, which is really the art of gardening. Congratulations on your garden and on your personal journey., We can all learn from you.

    1. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

      Thank so much for the beautiful comment Jay! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love!

  3. User avater
    PKKing 12/08/2021

    Lovely and peaceful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

      Thank so much for the beautiful comment PK! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love!

  4. gardendevas 12/08/2021

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights, and thoughtfully articulating these beautiful aspects of gardening. This awareness of the senses, and settling into a state of calm beingness are among gardening’s greatest gifts.

    1. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

      Thank so much for the beautiful comment! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love!

  5. User avater
    user-7007816 12/08/2021

    You've opened my eyes, ears, touch, taste, and smell to new opportunities in the garden--to slow down and enjoy. Thank you for sharing

  6. luvgardening24 12/08/2021

    Jordan, After an extremely stressful day yesterday I got up early this morning to find Fine Gardening in my mailbox and your "Mindful Garden" helped my mind return to calmness since I know today will be another difficult day, in f/u to yesterday. Gardening is such a healing environment and you helped me to rethink my own gardens. I found your website too so can't wait to read further on your beautiful garden. Wisconsin is going into hibernation with cold weather but I find this time to create a beautiful spring adventure of enhancing mindfulness which we all need in these crazy stressful times. Thank You!

  7. alicefleurkens 12/08/2021

    Jordan. Glad to know this gardening brings you peace of mind. It always does for me. So many new things each day, and each time of day. Working in it makes me happy and just wandering through observing makes me happy. so many things change with the light, the weather, insects [that eat something overnight] the rain makes everything grow overnight. The smells and sights a never ending wonder and joy. Now I will observe with mindfulness. Thank you.

    1. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

      Thank so much for the beautiful comment, Alice! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love!

  8. User avater
    Cynthia2020 12/08/2021

    Jordan - compelling gardening story!
    For me it brought to mind the intentional steps of mindfulness – e.g. if you feel like your thoughts are scattered… directing attention (engage), sustaining attention (stay and explore), and shifting attention (disengage). I also thought of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow” being fully immersed in an activity (that’s how I feel when I garden) and Tedeschi and Calhoun’s “post-traumatic growth” - flourishing in life with more gratitude. Finally, even by describing what you are looking forward to in 2022 – you are reminding us that having something to look forward to is yet another way we can boost our happiness level, too – thank you!

    1. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

      Thank so much for the beautiful comment Cynthia! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love!

  9. User avater
    SimpleSue 12/08/2021

    I just love your garden philosophy/psychology...to be mindful and focus on our senses one at a time.
    You have a gorgeous garden too.
    Just love that idea of the future garden path.
    I so enjoyed reading this garden post.

    1. User avater
      SimpleSue 12/08/2021

      Ps...found this great interview/story on Jordan everyone will enjoy for sure https://medium.com/mind-your-madness/interview-with-jordan-mara-2335bae6c0b0

    2. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

      Thank so much for the beautiful comment Sue! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love!

      1. User avater
        SimpleSue 12/09/2021

        I just subscribe to your Youtube! (I'm not on Instagram)

  10. Sheila_Schultz 12/08/2021

    Thank you Jordan. My gardens have given me the gift of finding my own balance over the decades. My life would have been very different without the peace they have allowed me to feel. Your journey is just beginning. Enjoy.

    1. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

      Thank so much for the beautiful comment Sheila! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love!

  11. Jordan_MindandSoil 12/08/2021

    Thank you all so much for the beautiful comments! I'm now looking to introduce gardening's mental health benefits to 1,000,000 people with my business, Mind & Soil. If you're interested, you can check more out on our instagram (instagram.com/mindandsoil) or youtube (youtube.com/mindandsoil)! Big love yall!

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