Recently, I’ve been thinking about why I love to grow plants. One of the outcomes of being around plants is this wonderful sense of being grounded in the moment.
Much of the time, I think about what I need to do or what I did in the past, totally ignoring the present. The thought that I really ought to get on to the next task constantly nags me. But when I get around plants, they have this magical ability to bring me right into the moment.
So what is it about plants that bestows this magical power?
Sometimes it’s their movement. The blades of grass bending with a slight breeze that calls my attention. Or it might be cottonwood or aspen leaves rustling on their slender petioles.
Sometimes it’s the beauty of flowers. The blossoms that stop you in your tracks, begging for attention with their stunning colors and shapes.
Sometimes it’s the fragrance, the scent of western sagebrush after a summer thunderstorm perfuming the air, or the sweet smell of willow along a slow waterway that brings back memories of childhood fun, playing along the irrigation ditch in front of my house.
Other times it’s watching the insects foraging for nectar, tucking their heads deep into the center of a flower, bursting out and working the next blossom inches away.
Or it could be a humming bird darting through the air poking its beak into tubular flowers, searching for the life-sustaining nectar.
Sometimes it’s a change I notice, a pea plant that had a flower yesterday and a tiny pea pod today. Or a shrub that has grown since the last time I looked. Or a new seedling that has sprouted next to the parent plant.
Whatever it is, it feels so good to be around plants. It’s like they’re just waiting to bring us back to where we need to be, the now, the moment, the present. Plants help me be present with my loved ones, who desperately need my calm attention.
For me, meditation always feels like a “have to” where I struggle to watch my thoughts, let go of them and hope for better ones to come my way. But spending time around plants in nature or in a garden feels like a privilege, a joyful experience of looking for wondrous surprises.
It’s like the plants make it easy to come back to the present surprising me with their unexpected beauty. One of the best benefits is a sense of peace, however fleeting, that persists for a little while. An echo of pleasure that lasts for a time, that allows creativity and connection to peek into my life.
I’m lucky enough to work at a public garden. Sometimes I forget how rewarding that is. Thankfully, I’m constantly reminded by visitors and other co-workers. I can’t tell you how many times people express their appreciation and joy for just simply the opportunity to walk around and look at the plants.
So if you’re feeling worried, stressed, overwhelmed, unsure, defeated, depressed or lethargic, give yourself a break. Take a moment to walk outside, breathe in fresh air and look at some plants.
Even better, create a landscape around your home that rejuvenates you on a daily basis. When you get home from work or people stress you out, you can tinker in the landscape for a while and bring yourself back to center. It really works.
So now you know how plants ground me. That’s one reason I love to grow plants.