Garden Mindfulness

While I was taking care of my mom prior to her passing, I got in the habit of taking whatever few minutes each day that I could to go outside for my “15 Minutes of Wildlife Garden Zen.” These precious moments in nature allowed me to recharge my soul, find some solace, and be at peace in that present moment.

The nights were particularly hard for both my mom and I, and often we would both be awake all through the night. When she was calm, I would tell her that I needed to go outside for my moments of zen, and when I came back in she would always ask what I had seen.

One night I described the pair of Great Horned Owls who were calling back and forth. Another night the sky was full of shooting stars. One day I witnessed a beautiful dance by a flock of Sandhill Cranes.

As our journey together began to come to an end, and the nights got harder, my mom began to tell me “I am fine right now. Go outside and have some time for yourself, then come back and tell me what you see.”  And so we did until her final day.

These moments of mindfulness, of being aware of the present moment, of expressing thanks and gratitude, of observation became my soul connection to the earth. And I’m so grateful I got to share them with my mom.

Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness, especially in my garden.

Garden mindfulness to me is to be aware of the beauty of nature around us, to be aware of the consequences of our actions, to learn to make healthier choices. Garden mindfulness is about healthy people, healthy gardens, and a healthy planet.

I asked some of my team members what garden mindfulness meant to them and they had these lovely replies:

Sue Sweeney of Scalzi Riverwalk Nature Preserve:

Be quiet. Stand still. Breathe. Listen. See. Enjoy!

Kathy Vilim of Native Gardener:

The first thing that comes to mind is Observing~ One cannot add to or live with Nature without taking time to observe all that surrounds you

And Stephanie Cohen, of the Perennial Diva:

My whole horticultural life has been devoted to helping horticulture students achieve their goals. It also has been helping all gardeners achieve success in whatever they endeavor. It has been helping to raise money for The Camden Children’s Garden. It has been giving and helping arboretums. As I age it is based in paying it ahead. People who write and call get answers. New people in the field have been mentored. Local master gardeners got help. I have never forgotten all the kindness of experienced gardeners on my path to recognition. So I try to make a difference. In my day it was said it is better to light one little candle than curse the darkness and my job has been to light little candles. By associating this project with your mother’s passing you are doing the same thing.

My belief in garden mindfulness is expressed in my philosophy of Ecosystem Gardening: conserve natural resources, create healthy soil, garden sustainably, and create welcoming habitats for wildlife so that you will attract more birds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife. In short, after all we have taken away, let’s learn to give a little back to wildlife and work for healthy ecosystems.

But there are many others who express garden mindfulness in different ways, such as being mindful of the wonder and beauty of nature in our gardens, organic food, drought-tolerant gardening, green roofs, living walls, and more. Different approaches and outlooks, but the message is the same:

Healthy Gardens for Healthy People in a Healthy Planet

I’d like you to meet some other Mindful Gardening people:

  • My team at Beautiful Wildlife Garden share my mission of sharing our gardens with all manner of wildlife
  • My team at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens are mindful of healthy ecosystems and helping to create a better planet.
  • Donna Donabella, of Garden’s Eye View, is a poet and gardener who writes about discovering her life and soul through lessons learned in the garden.
  • Susan J. Tweit, of Walking Nature Home, is able to see the wonder and beauty of nature around her in even the most challenging times.
  • Chris McLaughlin, of A Suburban Farmer, is a food and hobby farm advocate who is passionate about healthy organic food for healthy people.
  • Teresa O’Connor, of Seasonal Wisdom, is mindful of seasonal lore and healthy food
  • Cindy (better known as @gemswinc on twitter), of Through the Looking Glass, is a gardener, birder, and environmentalist who is mindful of human impacts on our ecosystems.
  • Shawna Coronado, of The Casual Gardener, wants people to garden, to make a difference in their communities, to feed their family, To THINK.
  • Paul Lee Cannon, of Hit the Ground Writing, uses his garden lessons as a metaphor for life.
  • C. L. Fornari, of Whole Life Gardening, writes about conscious cultivating
  • Evelyn Hadden, of Less Lawn, is mindful of teaching people to think differently about the impact of various garden practices.
  • Mike Lieberman, of Urban Organic Gardener, empowers people to grow their own food and reconnect with their food source
  • Theresa Loe, of Living Homegrown, is a food advocate promoting local, organic, and sustainable food.
  • Susan Morrison, of Blue Planet Garden Blog, says “When a garden is a reflection of a life, it deserves to be more than just an afterthought to a lawn.”
  • Daniel Gasteiger, of Small Kitchen Garden, wants us to know “how even a minimal effort produces a better food product with less impact on the environment.”
  • Kathy Jentz, of Washington Gardener, advocates practical green gardening that is accessible to the average consumer
  • Tina Koral, of Suddenly I Seed, encourages people to grown their own food even if they have only a tiny garden space

What is your definition of garden mindfulness?

This post is dedicated to the memory of Jane C. Hassett 1935-2011. I love you mom :)

© 2011 – 2013, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us

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  1. says

    Carole what a beautiful tribute to your mom. I love the way you both connected to the garden during this difficult time and it brought you both peace. The garden has been a source of peace and strength for me in my difficult times. I find renewal there. The biggest lesson my parents taught me has been to do no one harm and I continue this with my garden. My gardening practices are aligned with this and I try to leave my patch a little better than I found it. Thank you for including me on this list of Mindful Gardeners. It is an honor.

  2. says

    This is a beautiful post & I’m so happy to hear that you were able to share such wonderful moments of tranquility with your mom.

    To me, garden mindfulness is about observing the little things others seem to take for granted. I feel like there are gifts from nature waiting to be discovered every day if you just stop & take the time to notice.

  3. says

    Eloquently stated, Carol. I agree that a garden aligned with nature is a place aligned with spirit. Where better to rediscover our true selves, and what better than to share it with those whom we are walking the same path.

  4. says

    Carol, Thanks for sharing your story about how nature brought you peace. My father passed away last year, and we took the most beautiful and bittersweet sunset walk on the beach shortly after the funeral. The beautiful pictures from that afternoon remind me there is beauty around us at all times–even when we don’t see it. And thanks very much for including Seasonal Wisdom on such a terrific list of inspiring folks. I’m honored. Wishing you a wonderful holiday! Teresa

  5. says

    What a beautiful post and what wisdom. I was not with my mother when she died – on a golf course after hitting a good one down the fairway I was told by one of her companions. It was not until I was talking about her to a good friend while we walked a Maine beach, surrounded by the immensity of sky and ocean that I was able to gain a new peace. Being in and aware of the natural world is a powerful medicine.

  6. Rebecca Wardell Gaertner says

    Thank you for sharing this special time, Carol. I have many plants we brought from my parents beautiful yard, and I feel like my parents are with me as I work in my gardens. Not all of them are native, but most are thriving.
    I feel so connected to the earth just by weeding, nurturing, and watching the birds and insects on the plants I love. Very peaceful:)


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