It’s late August and my garden is a chaotic, wild, and beautiful “mess”. The pumpkin vines have twined up the apple tree with pumpkins resting on branches or in mid-air. The runner beans are preferring the support of tomatoes to the trellis, so beans appear to be growing out of the tomato plants. The cosmos, borage, and strawberries have invaded the paths between beds, making it difficult to navigate but they are lovely and abuzz with pollinators. And there are so so many fragrances as you walk through the beds brushing against lemon balm, lavender, chocolate mint, thyme, basil and more. You can graze on cherry tomatoes, nasturtiums, borage flowers, young beans or kale, chard, raspberries, and currants.
Anyone who has ever seen my gardens knows that order is not an adjective that comes to mind. I DO start out with a map in the spring, but it is quickly subverted by volunteers and plants that have other ideas about where they want to grow. I know my style of gardening isn’t for everyone, however I love that it feels like I am co-creating with the garden space rather than just directing. And the result is a wildness and abundance that is playful and happy making.
The other word that comes to my mind when in the garden is flow. Without getting too esoteric, there is a palpable energy that pervades the yard and the gardens. Flow is a state of connection and an attunement to the present ever shifting moment. I can get there in meditation and qigong as well as being in the garden, but honestly, the garden is such an easy path. It’s as if there is a portal and I just walk through and am instantly transported. The August garden, overflowing and feral, is an especially easy space to experience flow.
I think most gardeners intuitively know this sense of flow, whether they articulate it or not. A January 2016 article in National Geographic Magazine, This is Your Brain on Nature, explains the science behind why we experience flow in natural spaces and also reap lots of health benefits. While, it does seem odd that we need science to prove this to ourselves, the article points out that there are benefits to being in any natural space. Apparently, a tame garden will get you there as well as a wild one. And if you don’t have a garden or green space of your own, finding a place to hang out in the real world with green living things is the point.