Relax and make yourself at home

Comfortable seating can become a centerpiece of the garden when it is artistic. PHOTOS BY JANE GATES

In the middle of the holiday season our human desire to organize and control everything can add a lot of stress to our lives. Then throw in all the traffic, the guests, the up and down weather and the wildfire dramas we have been experiencing. A nice quiet vacation certainly would be in order. But this is not an easy time to get away. …Or is it?

It is easy to look at your landscape as an area of “have-tos;” a place where the grass needs mowing, gardens need weeding, trees and shrubs need pruning and hardscapes (permanent features) need constant repair. But it’s important to take the time and let your garden pay back for all the efforts and expense you put into it. Here is a short list of just some other ways of looking at your outdoor property space. Think of it as:

A place of mental and emotional calm  little private space you can go where you can be yourself.

A place for thoughts s the season transitions, nature shows her colors in many ways, from late berries, fruits and foliage to migrating birds. Take the time to forget your personal list of to-dos and see the larger transitions that are going on around you.

A place for exercise xercise is probably the most healthy way to burn off stress. You can prune, rake and weed to use chores for exercise. Or, you can build exercise into your landscape. Exercise can be fun for adults and the kids can keep busy for many hours in outdoor sunshine taking in healthy vitamin D.

A place where you can make a difference iving in the working world can become frustrating when you feel run over by events you can’t control. A garden will often grow in unexpected ways, but you can choose plants, sculpt areas to design them to your taste and generally guide your landscape to grow in a way you can feel proud of. And, the garden teaches us many lessons about acceptance (when our plans go awry and turn out better than we planned), humor (watching comical antics of wildlife), the circle of life, and so much more about the larger existence in which we live.

When we bring those fundamental lessons into our everyday lives we find a more balanced syncronicity in all our relationships.

A place to regenerate ardening can be a major contributor to your good health. It will provide fresh air, vitamin D, exercise and a different view of the world rather than all the doom and gloom of the news reports of human behavior across the globe.

Science has shown that when you stop and allow your mind to empty while looking at flowers or insects, the theta waves in your brain get a chance to take over and rest your mind. This isn’t much different from meditation or biofeedback and can refresh you better than a good nap. After a short period of resting your mind, you can return to the day’s demands regenerated, more creative, and more productive.

Make sure you design in a space to enjoy your garden. Seating can come in the form of formal furniture, a cozy hammock, a decorative tree stump or tree trunk on its side, a shaded bench or a built-in retaining wall topped with comfortable cushions. If you find a hidden space surrounded by walls or, better, living trees or shrubs you can feel as though you are on a vacation elsewhere. Or, take your garden one step further by designing a theme garden that reminds you of somewhere you’d like to escape to, whether real or fantasy.

Holidays are times when family and friends get together. They can be fun and uplifting. But there is also plenty of work involved organizing, cleaning, cooking, decorating and planning. Not all friends and family events go smoothly and personalities can occasionally clash. Time restraints can cause pressure. And holiday times can stir up anxiety and depression. After guests go, there can be a sense of overwhelm with clean up and backlogged chores left undone. 

Enjoy the gifts of the holidays, but let the garden gift you respite, too. Even the best planned events have periods of stress. Look to your garden for a little rest and relaxation. It’s great, instant form of therapy (without the office bill). And if you take the time to watch the events unfurling in the garden – the growth of various plants, the interaction of insects, a bee pollinating, a butterfly sunning itself – you might even get a peek into the bigger flow of life that can put many daily stressors into perspective. We are all a part of something way bigger….

 However you relax in your garden, you are likely to return to your everyday list of to-dos refreshed and energized. And that›s a good way to make your holidays truly happy. 

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