Friday at the Farm

This past Friday was my last day of school and my first day of vacation.  I decided to celebrate by meeting my friend, Karen, at a local gardening shop aptly named, The Farm at Green Village.  It has a pond, acres of trails and foliage, an enormous greenhouse, and even a resident peacock.  I am not a gardener, but I love going to The Farm.  It is my Zen place, my place to unwind and breathe; my place to meet a friend and laugh.

When I arrived, Karen was already picking out plants.  She is the gardener. Her home is surrounded by flowers.  I love visiting her; sitting out on her back deck surveying her flowers, watching  bees and hummingbirds pause by the blossoms, and scolding her cat, Pepe, as he tries to catch butterflies in his claws.  It’s like a wonderful summer ballet.

We walked the aisles looking for the right flowers and hanging baskets for Karen’s home.  We marveled at the colors and types of flowers.  Karen knows many more flower names than I do.  I would love to be more garden-knowledgeable. I love reading the names off the garden tags: salvia, hydrangea, echinacea, begonia, petunia, impatience, zinnia.  Lots of lovely rolling syllables. Lots of bright and cheerful colors. We filled up two carts with flowers for Karen’s garden and planters.  I felt my body relax as I roamed the aisles of flowers, taking in their fragrance. It was like spending a morning in Eden with a friend.  It made me so happy.  What better way to start the summer.

My new favorite flowers were the Lantana.  I have admired them but didn’t know their name.  They have delicate little flowers that grow in little bunches in a variety of complementary colors. I especially loved the Sunburst Lantana.  They just make me happy when I look at them.  They remind me of flowers you would arrange for a summer tea party for the fairies or a wedding for garden gnomes.

After a couple of hours, we sat among the flowers and chatted, soaking in the morning sun. Then we headed inside to look for houseplants and planters.  This is another happy place for me.  While Karen, selected two small houseplants, I went hunting for colorful pots with my camera.  I don’t have room to collect such things, but I collect them with my camera, and that means I can keep them forever and never worry that they may break.

I roamed among all the beautiful things, clicking away in wonder of each little object: pots, statuettes, vases, mirrors, and baskets in an array of colors.  If I had a grand mansion, I would fill one wing like this full of plants and light and love.  Instead, I choose two small ceramic objects: a bunny and a turtle.  The bunny will grace my desk, and the turtle will be a present for my husband.  He loves turtles because they remind him to slow down and concentrate on what’s truly important. 

I am glad I slowed down today. I am grateful for this time with Karen, for this day among the flowers. I cannot wait until our next trek, but for now the flowers are enough.

Mindful Gardener

“Earth laughs in flowers.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Though I am not a gardener, I have always had an affinity for gardens and have spent many days in both my grandfathers’ gardens.  They grew all sorts of vegetables, fruits, fruit trees, and flowers.  I loved helping them plant and harvest.  I still enjoy getting dirty planting flowers. There is satisfaction in watching something grow. There is satisfaction in nurturing something.

Over the years, when I was able, I created school and class gardens with my students. I loved watching their curious and surprised faces as they discovered garden treasures: a snail, a green tomato, a huge pumpkin. Children learned so much in the garden, not only about the nature of plants, but also about their own toughness and resiliency – grit if you will.

I’m lucky to live near many public gardens and arboretums.  I cannot wait to see their spring offerings.  This spring seems more precious to me, maybe it’s because of the precariousness of the world.  I need a place of serenity and beauty, a place where things thrive and grow instead of being destroyed.  When I’m in a garden everything else fades away.  I step into a different place and time.  I am fully with the plants and flowers.  Surrounded by beauty, I’m able to breathe deeply, slow my heart rate, and be present to all that is flourishing.

Mindful Gardener

I step out of my thinking
into the pink,
the purple and yellow,
into my personal oasis.
A green haven
sprouting to life,
seeds of calm, 
shoots of inner peace,
knotted roots entwine,
newly budded flowers
silently grow.
I forget about busy
and connect with the flowers,
 feel the soil  between my fingers,
I stop worrying,
listen to the sounds 
of the fertile earth,
Inhale all of spring.
My intentions
In full bloom.

Willowood Arboretum – Chester, New Jersey

New & Unique Garden Books for Kids

  • Celia Planted a Garden: The Story of Celia Thaxter and Her Island Garden by Phillis Root
  • Easy Peasy: Gardening for Kids by Little Gestalten
  • Flowers are Pretty Weird by Rosemary Mosco
  • Grow: A Family Guide to Plants and How to Grow Them by Riz Reyes
  • Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood by Tony Hillery
  • How to say Hello to a Worm by Kari Percival
  • Little Homesteader: A Spring Treasury of Recipes, Crafts, and Wisdom by Angela Ferraro-Fanning
  • Parks for the People: How Frederick Law Olmsted Designed America by Elizabeth Partridge
  • Planting a Garden in Room 6 by Caroline Arnold
  • Springtime is.. by Leah Vis
  • The Gardener of Alcatraz by Emma Bland Smith
  • What Cooking at 10 Garden Street by Felicita Sala
  • What’s Cooking in Flowerville? By Felicita Sala
  • What’s Inside a Flower?: And Other Questions About Science and Nature by Rachel Ignotofsky

A great website for you to feast your gardening senses:

Flower Power Daily

Much gratitude to TWT: Slice of Life and SOS: Sharing Our stories.