The Mindful PlanterAlison Marsden
There are many ways in which gardening can be your everyday mindful activity and not just in summer, as my blog from November shows. Contact me if you want to find your own route to Gardening for the Mind.
November is not the most exciting month in the garden but I am always cheered to come home to a planter of winter flowers by the front door, knowing too that spring flowering bulbs are hidden beneath the surface to banish the winter. Putting together a seasonal pot of colour is the ideal mindful gardening activity to connect with nature and exercise our senses. You can even plant up on the kitchen table if it is raining outside. The first step is to choose bulbs and flowers from the vast array on offer. Look closely at the size, shape and texture of leaves and flowers, not just the colour. And on the subject of colour, decide if you want hot colours to brighten up a dull day or cool colours for a spot of calm.
Once you have pot, plants and compost assembled, pour compost out into a potting tray instead of just shovelling it directly into the pot. Spend a few moments breaking the lumps with your hands to get a fine crumb – feel the texture of the compost in your hands as you create the perfect medium for roots to grow. Fill the pot half full and gently firm the compost before sitting bulbs on the surface around the edge. There are plenty of gardening analogies between nurturing plants and people and bulbs are one of my favourites. The plant stores food in the bulb to support growth and produce a flower when conditions are less than ideal. As you place the bulbs, think about how we can store away good memories, achievements, compliments to spur us on to grow and ‘flower’ through life’s challenges.
Fill compost around the bulbs and it is time to plant your chosen flowers in the centre of the pot. This arrangement contains winter flowering Heather and Pansies. Both will flower right through to spring as long a you keep deadheading the Pansies. I chose this combination for the contrast – Heather with tiny bell shaped flowers giving an almost crispy flower spike and the soft velvety faces on the large, open Pansy petals. No harm is done if you run your fingers gently over the surfaces. Most bedding plants will have a fairly solid mass of root so tease out the hair-like white roots to give them the best chance to grow out into your carefully crumbled compost. Finally fill up around the plants with the remaining compost, water it and place your pot of colour by your front door. Then pause for a mindful moment every time you leave or arrive home this winter.
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Happy Gardening from Alison