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.
Rather 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!