Posts tagged ‘garden therapy’

The daily harvest

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I’ve written before about how something as simple as tending to a row of peas can calm frenzied days, and how flowers from the garden can lighten even the saddest days. My faith in garden therapy continues to grow. It’s been a spring and summer of gardening in five or ten minute stints throughout the day as I navigate the joys and challenges of being a new mommy.

Our little guy has his own chair outside on the deck and many mornings we enjoy our breakfast or lunch outside and I do the watering in between bites, or pick a strawberry or two for us to eat. Once in a while a weed gets pulled, but only in the food growing areas. The rest of them have free reign of the yard, I’m afraid (motherhood is doing wonders for curing my perfectionist tendencies).

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Best of all is going out, usually late afternoon, to harvest something good for dinner. We’ve had a steady crop of greens that I’ve been using in salad and pasta – rainbow chard, spinach, arugula, bok choy and more – since late spring. Cucumbers have been a success as well – from one little plant I’ve harvested at least a dozen full-sized cukes. Tomatoes are also collecting in a basket I keep on the windowsill. I’ve been picking them a bit green to encourage others on the vine to ripen up. The tomatoes I grew this year shot up sky-high, so it is a race to get the fruit before the plants topple over from the weight.

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We have plums, plums, and more plums. I have made six beautiful plum cakes over the past couple of weeks, and I might still make one or two more. The plums are wonderful for eating fresh as well. No one is enjoying them more than our 7-month old. Good luck eating one if he is in arms-length of you: he’ll reach over, grab it away and hoover it down with the most intense passion and focus. All that is left a minute later is a sticky, drippy, gooey mess of plum juice and slobber all over everyone and everything. Motherhood also cures you of caring about whether your house or shirt or arm is clean: I am in love with this kind of mess.

Apples, sadly are a bust this year, for reasons unknown. Last year’s harvest was incredible, so I will have to figure out what we did wrong so the pie-making can recommence next season. Tent caterpillars might be to blame. We found a pile of them nesting in the tree in the late spring, so I wonder if they ate all the blossoms. Last year’s apple sauce is still here, though, and almost as popular as the plums with our little guy.

Fresh herbs – chives, dill, sage, basil, thyme, and oregano – are all thriving in pots and in the garden. The ambitious me wants to dry mint leaves, lemon balm, lavender, and rose petals for tea. We’ll see if that happens this year, but for now I am reminding myself to brew up a pot of what’s growing fresh in the garden.

There will be time enough for tea bags all winter, and for weeding maybe some day. For now I will enjoy my five minutes here and there in the garden by picking something good to eat.

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August 7, 2015 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

Winter Solstice at the Chinese Garden

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At last, the days are getting longer! We celebrated at the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens last night. It was lovely, and especially beautiful with all the shiny melting snow mixed in with the lanterns and the smell of spicy dragon tea wafting out of paper cups as people walked by.

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It was crowded, but in a nice way with everyone very courteous and smiling, volunteers scurrying around trying to keep all the tea lights in lanterns lit, and lots of cute kids tromping around in snowsuits.

bamboo lanterns

The lanterns were inspiring and gorgeous, created by the Secret Lantern Society, which is one of my favourite arts groups for all the great work they do lighting up local events. Everything they do that I’ve participated in lives up to their name – the ambiance of the lanterns and the way they shape the moods of a crowd do make you feel like you’ve stepped into a secret society filled with calm, gracious souls.

I’ve been to the Chinese Gardens before and loved it, and it was a treat to be there for such a special day. Mark it on your calendar for next year if you’re in Vancouver and you’ve never been.

jar lantern closeup

blue lantern river

leaf lanterns

lotus lanterns

solstice at the chinese gardens

snowflake lantern

lantern jar

flower lanterns

secret lantern society

December 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm Leave a comment

Windowsill gardening

One of my most successful gardening endeavours this year is happening indoors. I’ve grown several pots of basil from seed on the window sill of my studio this summer and the plants are doing so well in their few inches of sun.

It’s such a satisfying thing to grow a plant from a seed. The ritual of tending to plants brings me endless peace, and basil brings an extra reward. When I water the plants in the morning I brush up against the leaves and experience the earthy summer smell of basil – it’s an amazing signal to my brain to wake up and enjoy the day.

September 20, 2012 at 8:09 am 2 comments

Tomatoes


I planted a handful of tomato seeds about 10 days ago after being inspired by Gayla Trail’s recent post “Tomato Plants Offer Cheap Therapy.” She’s absolutely right about this. Scent is a powerful provoker of memories and emotions, and that smell of warm tomato vines is a such a happy place. (more…)

February 16, 2011 at 8:16 pm 2 comments

Garden peas and peace

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Life has been especially full over the past few weeks. My interesting but very busy job has been taking up more time than usual, and we’ve also been spending lots of weekend time enjoying local festivals. All this means less time at home. I’m sure it also makes your blog readers feel like you’ve dropped off the face of the planet (sorry!). Things are starting to equalize back to a more normal pace now, I think. At the very least a period of calm has settled in for the long weekend.

I’ve been harvesting the English peas growing along the side of our deck all during these past few weeks. Nothing says summer like the taste of garden fresh peas. What we have planted is equivalent to two or three rows in a standard vegetable garden. It yields a small bowl of peas to munch on as a snack everyday. The daily harvest has meant a few quiet minutes in the garden, even on the busiest days, plucking fresh peas from their vines in the evening when the day has cooled off. It’s been wonderful to sit for a few minutes on the deck and enjoy eating them while I water the tomatoes and the dog crunches on the empty pea pods.  The tomatoes on our deck are growing in giant terracotta pots, which dry out quickly and demand near-daily watering. I’ve been nurturing those tomatoes since I planted them as seeds in late March, so I made time for that chore – there’s no way I’m going to let them dry up when we’re on the brink of enjoying a delicious tomato crop.

10 or 15 minutes spent in garden tending the plants and enjoying a couple of handfuls of freshly picked vegetables doesn’t seem like much, but it’s made a world of difference – my vegetable patch is the perfect antidote to frenzied days that are otherwise racing by way too quickly.

August 1, 2009 at 3:03 pm 4 comments


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