Finding Time To Do Nothing

I have a favourite spot to sit in my garden. I take time to sit there every day, weather permitting. And if it’s raining, I’ll sit in the doorway of my shed with the door open, watching the rain. A cup of coffee, or in the evening a glass of wine, and some quiet time to myself out there, listening to Gardeners’ Question Time or reading a magazine, is my recipe for happiness.

Us gardeners often find it hard to just stop and sit in our gardens. It’s easy to always be busy. There are endless jobs to do, especially at this time of year. I’ll go outside with one or two things in mind that I want to, and they lead to another and another, and before I know it I realise I’ve been gardening for hours.

This morning, I popped out to quickly plant out some sweet pea seedlings. It should only have taken five minutes, but then I found myself deadheading bulbs, and pulling dandelions out of the lawn, and then moving a geranium that had got too big and was swamping a hydrangea. And, of course, when I went to water the sweet peas I’d just planted, I thought I’d better water all the pots, and the fruit and veg beds in the front garden. And then I noticed that there were more jobs to do in the front garden borders, cutting back ferns and a sedum I’d missed last month, and I remembered that I had some snow drops that needed planting… And so it went on.

I love gardening for the way it allows you to lose yourself in tasks that never seem to end. The physical activity is both exhilarating and relaxing. It stimulates your senses, and is profoundly therapeutic. But there is also something magical about forcing yourself to be still, to sit and look at the results of all of your effort and creativity.

When I stop gardening, and take time to do nothing, I notice things in the garden that I would otherwise miss. I’ll notice new flowers that have just opened, or see the low afternoon sunlight hitting an acer at a perfect angle.

There are a few spaces in my garden where I love to sit and watch the garden. There’s an old log that I like to sit on and watch the hairy-footed flower bees noisily and systematically working their way through the pulmonaria flowers.

Two oak arm chairs tucked next to my shed and slightly hidden behind a border are a brilliant spot for watching wildlife. I see the bugs, birds and squirrels busily going about their lives, paying me no attention. There is a pair of Great Tits nesting in a box at the back of the garden, and it’s a pleasure to watch them zipping back and forth from the shrubs and trees with food for their young. The grey squirrels look so funny, leaping about like mad things around an old elder tree and along the back fence. Here, I am hidden from the house, and I get the alone time I often crave as a busy, working mum.

And in the summer, on the hottest days, I have some deck chairs under the dappled shade of a cherry tree, where can lie back and close my eyes, and listen to the sounds of the garden. It’s a piece of garden heaven.

Do you have a favourite spot in the garden where you like to sit and do nothing? Or are you always busy gardening when you’re in the garden? I’ll happily admit that I do find it hard. Often, when I’m sitting in one of my favourite spots, I’ll see a new job that needs my attention, but it’s worth resisting the urge to do it immediately. It’s the only way to truly reap the rewards of all your hard work.

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