But is it Art?, Designs, Tricks, and Schemes

One Way of Relaxing in an Imperfect Garden


Glow of the moment,
Spread my restless attention
Like water, like peace.

My garden will never be perfect. I know that. And sometimes that makes it hard to relax in. I’ll sit down and try to enjoy being outdoors, but instead I’ll catch myself scanning around for things to add to my mental “want-to-do” list.

For my own sanity, there are times when I need to ignore all the things my brain is telling me I should do to improve the garden, and instead just focus on what thrills me about it right now.


Thistle gonna bloom.
Sidestep past it on the path,

It’s a difficult lesson. Mainly I’m collecting strategies. Here is one: challenging myself to write a short verse about the next thing I notice in the garden. Haiku is my verse of choice for this game; it keeps my attention on the tiniest details, in an effort to say something true and meaningful in only 5+7+5 syllables.

These brief glimpses into what I am sensing serve a dual purpose, bringing me into the moment as I write them and also capturing that moment, allowing me to revisit it later.


Collection of plants
Bound together with bindweed:
Wild bouquet du jour.

Posted by on July 5, 2016 at 11:51 pm, in the category But is it Art?, Designs, Tricks, and Schemes.
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9 responses to “One Way of Relaxing in an Imperfect Garden”

  1. Thank you, Saxon. That means a lot, coming from you!

  2. John, the lamb’s ear flowers are purply pink, but I think the low light at sunset makes them look bluer.

  3. Saxon says:

    Oh, that peace *could* spread like water, like your restless attention. Love the glow…

  4. John by the river says:


    How do you get blue lambs ear – mine are all pink. Is that a acid/alkali soil thing?

  5. Anne, that is lamb’s ear with the yarrow.

    Chris, what a good alternative — captions for photos. Would be so cool if there were an app to type them into the phone after taking a picture.

  6. anne says:

    Wonderful practice Evelyn! I hope you gather your haiku and photos together in printed form for posterity. And by the way, what is that blue flower with the yarrow in the last picture?

  7. Chris says:

    Wow. so true. so much to do so much to do never finished until first frost.

    I do love to take pictures of perfect vignettes in my garden.
    Like when something looks like I planned it to look.
    or not.
    Now I will take a moment to write captions or poems to go with them.
    Thank you for your insights and validation of what’s going on in a gardener’s head.
    We are always thinking about improving the garden, aren’t we. Never satisfied.
    A painting in progress, never finished.

  8. Annie says:

    What an absolutely lovely habit to get into. Quite often I find it difficult to practice mindfulness meditation techniques…it just feels like one more thing on the “to do” list – right after deadheading this clump of scabiosa, or repotting that agave. When the garden is “messy” I feel like my ADHD and anxiety go into power drive; the total opposite of the desired outcome of a morning putter in the garden!
    I’m definitely going to try this – short, simple, and easy to remember. Thank you!

  9. Thanks for this post. Sometimes all I can see are the “failures”, need to remember the successes as well. And ignore the weeds.