Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Into Every Garden A Little Rain Must Fall

If not there's always Zen Watering.


Sunday morning I awoke to thunder, fell back asleep dreaming that the Susans and the summer phlox had turned their faces heavenward in thanksgiving. I know I did. That little bit of rain was enough to remind me that nothing is forever in a garden...dry spells in a Middle Tennessee summer usually end.
After our May deluge of 18 inches of rain in less than 24 hours it's been hot and dry. I've been out of town at least two weeks out of every month most of the summer! For a non-traveler who prefers to stay home and garden~ that's a lot of away from the garden time. The garden looked tired and beat up from lack of rain. Thank goodness for the Susans, the phlox and summer annuals!
Traveling did not stop me from adding shrubs and perennials to the collection; I brought home plants from Buffalo, St Louis and OKC. I really wanted to bring home plants from Malvern, but the US has strong deterrents and tough rules about that...darn them! Knowing I was going to continue to go out of town for a family vacation and family business has meant that the dozens of plants are lining the driveway instead of being planted in the garden. Personally, I love tending to new plants and making sure they are getting a good healthy start; but having a plant sitter water several dozen different spots all over a large garden is beyond my budget!


So having a small nursery gives me an opportunity to practice my version of Zen Watering.


Zen Watering is a state of mind that requires you to take control of what you think. An especially good skill when standing in the heat and humidity watering what can other wise feel like hundreds of containers. My mind must quiet in order to be in the moment. Without centering and quieting my thoughts would quickly move toward complaining and whining about the heat. Before long I would have a long list of all kinds of things to be irritated about. Quit frankly, I don't want to reinforce negativity.
It's been a long hot summer and I find it best to avoid collapsing into the "OMG this is terrible!" Thinking about being miserable and complaining over and over, even to one's self, is not helpful. It's better to give one's self over to the experience of watering; whether it's hot or not. It can be a time of appreciation or gratitude; a time to celebrate the garden, life and water.
Many gifts arrive when we learn to be fully present in our lives.

Simply turn on the water wand to a gentle shower and begin watering.

Start by counting down. The shrubs in 3 to 5 gallon containers get a count of 20; smaller containers get shorter time....never less than a 7 count. It's not a race, it's a nice easy countdown~20, 19, breath, 17, 16, 15...Counting helps me center and be in the now of the experience. The now of my life which at that moment is watering.
I like to think about the plants 14, 13, 12...breath....They're beautiful and always more complex then we at first perceive. I notice the texture of the leaves, the shape, the colorations and whether they are making more buds. I watch the visiting pollinators and notice crab spiders plotting their next meal.
I surely want to plant more of Hosta 'Guacamole'

As long as I am in the moment of plants and breathing deeply, 11, 10, 9, I will let myself think about other things. Ideas for planting the containered plants; great posts I've read~like Carol's Wildflower Wednesday post on milkweed or Dee's sweet post Rose Scented Memories . I often celebrate the good gardening friends I've made and think of their many kindnesses. Thank you Darla and Cheryl for the seeds....8, 7, 6 breath.

Sometimes, I just feel the sweat roll down my face and notice nothing else.
5, 4, 3 breath...You could try it, 2, 1...breath.

Gail

"When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love." — Thich Nhat Hanh

50 comments:

  1. Gail girl (I might just make a milestone this morning being the FIRST ??? to comment ?? Yahooooo !)
    Zen watering sounds mystical and magical and just what we all need at some point : )
    As I have said .. every time I see my bright cheerful "Susans" I think of you in your garden .. : )
    Lovely pictures with a soul filling post .. Happy Zen to YOU girl : )
    Joy

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  2. Thank you teacher, for revealing to your students the secrets of zen watering. We are much appreciative and will follow this lesson to the letter! :-)
    xxxooo
    Frances
    ps, the path looks lovely and inviting. excellent flutterby shots!

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  3. Hi Gail,

    Wow, zen watering??? That does sound interesting… I actually enjoy watering, sometimes I may loathe getting the hose out and such but when I’m doing it I enjoy having the chance to see the plants, notice things perhaps I’d missed previously. Suddenly a ‘five minute job’ turns into 20 or 30 minutes. But it is nice and therapeutic.

    Now, if only I could have some of your heat… Actually I’ll regret I said that, because I’ll only moan if we did!

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  4. Aaaah.Thank you. I can think again. I need to drink my tea, eat my toast and then head out for Zen watering myself. I have many containers to enjoy.

    Thanks for the link love sweetie. You're really good at what you do BTW.~~Dee

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  5. Yes, whether we're late for a meeting while stuck in traffic or forced to endure weather beyond our control, a little Zen helps, reminding us to make the most of the moment. Your Zenworthy photographs lovely little gifts of the present.

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  6. Be present in the moment is quite good advice. Thank you for that reminder.

    My little six year old great niece was helping with watering one day and asked how long should she keep the hose on each plant. I told her to count to 20. She did a great job.

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  7. What a wonderful lesson! I have never minded watering, even when it's blazing hot. And I do spend much of that time reflecting on the garden. But now I will also count while I do it and try to make it more of a Zen experience. And I need to invite the teenage plant sitter I have hired for when I go on vacation and teach it to her - the counting part, at least.

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  8. I feel calm just sitting here reading it. I love the whole feel of this post! And will certainly keep it in mind when I water my containers.

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  9. It's the same thing here-water water water. I am hopeful the rain will come Thursday night and really give everything a good drink of water. Your driveway looks like my sidewalk-lots of plants waiting for a home. My plants are suffering though. Between me being negligent with watering and Lady eating the pots and plants-not a nice thing. Where is fall?? Noticed a new look to the blog. Looks good!

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  10. Tina, No pup to eat my plants, but plenty of bad chipmunks digging in the containers. The bugs are bad, too...I didn't know there was a chance of rain~I just noticed the 100 degree days we are having Again!

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  11. I like your Zen watering. I have my own version I guess. Did it last night in the dark because we had an evening event. My Zen watering involved coexisting with the crickets and spiders who usually have the garden to themselves in the late evening during the week.

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  12. Hand watering at the garden center was always my favorite thing to do. I would make sure that I got there early in the morning, and do the retail, and at the end of my day, I would do anything in the nursery that needed spot watering. Zenning out, and vegging, appreciating the closeup views of greenery, it was wonderful.

    Your shots of your garden are gorgeous, maybe I don't see what you see, but I see beauty.

    Enjoy your Zen moment.

    Jen

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  13. I try not to dread watering in the heat/humidity myslelf. Mind set of embracing the task and let my thoughts wonder as well, they often wonder to the many great gardening bloggers and what they may be doing at the same time. You are quite welcome for the seeds Gail. I know they washed away before..keep in mind they are easily started in containers and take moving just fine. I actually dropped a few seeds in a large container and just let them grow in there. Thanks for the link!!

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  14. While this sounds like the perfect way to be and possibly the way I should feel. I don't like the heat. I won't say it again but I don't like it when it is this hot. I do love to get out in the garden in the a.m. and water. It is quiet. The neighbor's dog isn't out to bark at me. It feels good to see the plants that I feel are happy to see me with that hose in hand. Your photos are marvelous. The head with the sunglasses is so charming.

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  15. Hi Gail, Loved this post. I do in fact count when watering my tomatoes and containers--each container to 10 and then fromt he start again for another 10. But I use "bananas" instead of "Mississippis" to make sure it's a second per count. I don't mind the heat too much, and sometimes turn the nozzle to mist and spray some on my arms and legs*, but I do get ornery about mosquitoes and random scratches. The hardest challenge I have in settling my mind is seeing all the 100s of other things I should be doing in the garden, aisde from watering. Zen is good. Acceptance is good. Doing what you can is good. Quiet contemplation is good.

    *Local master gardener drenches thirsty plants and then turns the hose on herself, full story at 6:00!

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  16. Dear Gail, This is a beautiful post! Lovely visually and thoughtfully wise. I do so love to water and it is a good time to practice zen. Thank you for the kind mention and for beginning the meme! Your photos are inspiring! I wrote a better comment but it got lost in cyber space ... I am trying to be zen about that too! ;>)

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  17. Gail.....while reading your post I was totally in the moment with you.
    It is good to be in harmony with nature. We all have choices.

    A beautiful post, and one I can fully appreciate.

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  18. Thank you for this wise post. I'm going to try the Zen watering technique next time I have to water. I'm not sure how well it will work with a watering can of rainbarrel water rather than the hose, but I'm willing to give it a try. It's too easy to fall into negativity in the dog days of summer.

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  19. I try not to approach things with negative thoughts. That is a sure way to create your own misery. Still, I can't get Zen when 50 mosquitoes are bitting me. I'm watering my Dad's plants (28) and it takes me about 4 minutes. Superman wishes he could move as fast as I do.
    Marnie

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  20. Love your zen watering thoughts, Gail. Like you, have been coming and going, hard on the garden and hard on the gardener! Happy August :)

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  21. Thanks Gail, I needed to hear this right now. Your words and bright and sunny flowers cheered me today.

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  22. Hi Gail,
    I'm just now learning about your famous blog and I can see why it is such a popular spot. Zen watering? Hmmm. I've always loved to water...it's just the thought of forgetting one of the babies and waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it. Zen shoveling was what I needed this week. Hey, is that a bottle tree I see in one of your pics? Wow!
    David (Tropical Texana Houston)

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  23. I love your attitude and approach Gail. Whenever I'm inclined to whine about heat, I just think about snow. That instantly shapes me up! Your photos are just beautiful. I really like the light in the first one of the painted lady.
    At some point, you will be very busy planting that driveway nursery!!!

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  24. I love this post, Gail. Zen watering does sound like a calmer way to get through the summer doldrums.

    I like your new blog design too. Perhaps it's been up for a while, but I've been reading you in my feed reader so hadn't seen it until today.

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  25. Ah, the Susan's--I am so thankful for their steadfast blooms and cheerful dispositions. Zen watering is good for swatting mosquitoes too! 1-2-3 SWAT! Score! A direct hit! Ahhhhh, I am in the zone.

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  26. Lovely post, Gail. I'm allowing the clouds to do my Zen watering tonight. Is that a white Stokes aster in the photo above the swallowtail on the lantana? I just bought a blue one, and hope it will like my garden. Such cool plants.

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  27. Yes, the rains finally returned here and we had 3-4 days of cloudy weather and good watering from the sky. Just when I was ready to throw in the trowel... the garden was saved.

    Your garden looks lovely. I like the sunglasses! LOL

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  28. Jodi, Yes it Stokesia laevis 'Mary Gregory' which is supposed to be a nice yellow, but looks very faded and near white. They will love your cooler garden and rich soil. Gail

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  29. Thank you all for stopping to visit~It's been some kind of long, hot summer~What I want to know is, "Where the heck is Paul Newman!"

    Gail

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  30. I am paid to water for someone else and during the summer I spend all day, everyday, watering either my employers' plants, or my own. Currently, I'd like to get another form of employment, but so goes the world. I will try Zen watering instead until a better option crosses my path. Thanks for the tips!

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  31. I find that being in the garden allows me to be in a Zen-like state.So many shady corners to escape the heat and I love putting on the sprinkler and watching the plants take in the water standing upright and tall!Yes water raises energy and for that reason I look forward to living so near the beach and my very own Lake.
    namaste..anna

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  32. I've been doing way to much Zen watering then! I really hope rain comes our way. The mini-nursery you have there looks a lot like my front porch!

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  33. I always try to water by hand with bare feet. Then I can water my feet with the bracingly cold water that comes out of our faucets and keep cool. Before heading out of town for a week, I was scurrying around trying to find spots for all my new pots where the sprinklers would hit them. I laid awake and night a couple of times on vacation wondering if they would all survive without me - but was happy to find no losses, yeah!

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  34. Beautiful blue pot in that picture... Love the color.

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  35. Hi Gail,

    Sounds as if you're having a busy summer! Congrats on finally getting some rain. Considering the circumstances, your garden looks great. It's been hot & dry here in VA also. We are finally getting some rain here as well. It's amazing how a little rain really perks everything up - even us!

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  36. Wonderful advice, Gail; I will definitely try this the next time I am watering. But it won't be today--we finally got some much needed rain last night, and the gardens are looking so thankful and refreshed. Actually, watering is my favorite garden chore--on a hot day, I don't mind the fact that the nozzle on one hose doesn't fit right and manages to soak me every time I water the garden:)

    Love all the butterflies--they alone can make any garden chore a truly Zen experience.

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  37. Your gardens look lovely as always.
    Love the idea of Zen watering. Must try it.
    We've had enough rain now. Just watering my little 'nursery'. It will have to wait till I'm much better. It will be cooler by then anyway.
    I hope all is well with you.

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  38. Fantastic photos Gail - watering is something I really don't like doing but when I do it I count! never thought that anyone else would do that too.

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  39. Such lovely photos and - hey! - confirmation on the whole watering thing. For some odd reason I count to 20 as well, but I don't recall who told me to do that. I really love hand-watering my flowers. It's a wonderful way to relax after a hard day at work. I enjoyed every word of this post. :)

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  40. Gail there's nothing better than spending one-on-one time with a watering wand and a pot of flowers. As others have said, you do notice more. My favourite part is when I'm down to my last section and pot, I often will water my feet with the cold water while I'm standing on the grass, makes me feel like a kid with a sprinkler all over again. B.

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  41. Gail, I have the stokesia laevis 'Mary Gregory' also. I ordered it as that was my mothers name. Mine too was a very pale yellow almost cream color. I have mine in a pot so I can watch it closer. I also have a lt. lavender colored one {name unknown}.

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  42. I don't think my previous comment posted. Your garden looks lovely--it pays to water!

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  43. I tend to get lost in the moment when watering - I often have absolutely no idea how long I've been standing there drowning a plant. There's something so calming about it. But then there are the times when I'm in a rush and watering becomes just one more chore to get through as quickly as possible - next time I'll have to try your zen watering technique :-) BTW, Guacamole is one of my favorite hostas - been growing it for ages and can't imagine a shade garden without it.

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  44. What a fabulous post Gail. I've been thinking similar thoughts as well. Things do change, including the weather, so it pays to be patient. I've never thought about counting as I water, but I do it often when I meditate, so I can see how it would work to calm the mind and forget the sweat. I'll try it tomorrow morning as I water the pots. :-)

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  45. What a fun post, Gail, full of awesome photos, and interesting watering tips. I used to do some counting when I watered pots. I don't know why I haven't lately. I do like to enjoy the plants and make observations like you mentioned while I'm watering.

    I saw a blue and black colored swallowtail butterfly this morning, and went in to get my camera, but Larry was mowing and scared it off.

    I hope all your plants survive.

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  46. Totally lovely, thanks!
    Lisa

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  47. Yes, I agree totally. I count too, 1 alligator, 2 alligator, in the garden. And the garden wand is my friend. Your plants look great. Alot there to plant :)

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  48. That was a nice calming visit.

    In last summer's heat & drought I was able to be more zen about watering, using the shifting shade patterns to stay out of the sun, and using the time to look and think.

    But this year I have to wear long sleeves, long pants instead of shorts, socks, real shoes and a hat, all saturated in mosquito repellent. And they still zoom, sneak in and bite. By the time I come in I feel like screaming and biting, too. Wish I could have your attitude!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  49. I wholeheartedly agree Gail. I've been practicing Zen watering, weeding, deadheading, and planting all during this hot, hot summer, at home and in the gardens of clients. I'm not averse to watering myself too - a cooling leg and arm shower makes watering the coolest task in the garden.

    At the end of the day when my work is finished, I enjoy a Zen shower and Zen air conditioning, followed by Zen sleep in cool, crisp sheets in a cozy bed enveloped in Zen darkness. ;)

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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