Gardening is a form of mindful meditation, and perhaps one of the best mindfulness practices. Nurturing a garden – regardless of its size, whether you’re blessed with one surrounding your house or whether it is few pots in your balcony, is a most satisfying experience. Watching one little leaf sprout or that bud beginning to bloom seems like the greatest achievement on earth.
Where I live, there’s an acute water shortage because of the intense heat. We’re praying for early rains. It is heart breaking to think of people and animals dying from heat stroke. Obviously, watering a garden is difficult, but there is a way to enjoy your garden without using too much water.
It is called Xeriscaping or dry gardening.
What better way to live mindfully than by conserving our natural resources?
Xeriscaping involves designing creative landscapes that use little or no water beyond what nature provides. This practice became popular as a result of extended droughts, since water had to be conserved as a precious resource. It involves choosing “drought-tolerant” plants or “xerophytes” that can survive in these tough conditions. Some examples are Myrtle and Daffodils, and of course cacti. These plants only use up to 25 per cent of the water used normally and this saves thousands of gallons of water on a daily basis.
Xeriscaping requires efficient irrigation methods such as drips and soaker hoses that direct water to the base of the plant, preventing the evaporation of water. So no sprinklers here! Plants with similar needs are grouped together and overall maintenance is less than a regular garden.
While cacti are adapted perfectly for dry gardening with their prickly spines, thick round stems that store water and the waxy skin that minimizes evaporation, they are not the only species. There are lots of plants suitable for xeriscaping such as agave, juniper, lavender, herbs and spices such as thyme, sage and oregano, black walnuts, artichokes and sapodilla, a fruit native to Mexico.
The benefits of xeriscaping are obvious:
- Saves water as much as 50-75%
- Less maintenance with simple irrigation and minimal weeding and pruning
- Adds to the value of the property
- Free from pollution as turf areas are far less and don’t need gas mowers
- Attracts local wildlife
And then there are some wonderful benefits of gardening.
- Lower stress when you align yourself with nature. Walk in sunshine to get your dose of Vitamin D as you relish the sight of fresh plants and flowers.
- Fresh air rich in oxygen nourishes your cells, making you feel more energetic. You feel good and enjoy better focus and sleep well at night
- If there are birds around, imagine! The sound of the wind through the trees, rustling the branches, bird song, the sky’s changing colors… what a treat! All these help us focus on the present moment.
- In your garden you don’t dwell on your worries. You leave your day’s problems behind. There’s no better way to take a break from the stress, as gardening helps you divert your thoughts, providing an outlet for your pent up energy. What a perfect way to connect with nature!
- Gardening also nudges your creativity. Growing something is so rewarding! As you sow, so shall you reap! And of course you’re burning calories, a very welcome side effect!
Gardening gives you a whole body workout in the most enjoyable way. Spending time outdoors in natural daylight, unplugged from your devices can actually put you in a good mood! If you have health issues, gardening can be a great way to cut down on medication and improve your health.
If you don’t have a garden, don’t worry about it. I don’t and here’s what I do – I enjoy the one we have around our apartment complex. I gush over my friends’ gardens. And I keep planning to cover my balcony with a net so I can bring in some plants, but I just don’t have the heart to tell my pigeons to buzz off.
So tell me, do you have a garden?
Do you find peace in it?
Would you agree that gardening is a form of mindful meditation?
If you’d like to read more about the principles of xeriscaping and a list of drought resistant plants, visit these links: