Ah, spring! It’s that quintessentially hopeful time of year when we feel refreshed and excited about warmer days ahead. But that sense of well-being can be short lived and turn to stress as we contemplate all the tasks that need to be done in the gardens that we’ve neglected over the winter months. Before getting frazzled, why not pause and savor that feeling of renewal? Decide to really enjoy springtime in the garden this year. Here are some ideas for finding and appreciating a fresh gardening perspective.
Take a step back
Instead of projecting ahead to all that needs to be done (and the list can be daunting), first stop and enjoy what you have already accomplished. Perhaps you’ve planted new trees and shrubs in the past year. Examine how they are growing and filling in the garden beds. Make a list of what you like in your garden and what’s working for you. Take photos of what you have created, and continue to document your garden successes through pictures throughout the seasons.
Focus on your senses
Listen to the sounds of nature waking up – the birds, insects and children out once again playing and making music in the garden. Feel the first warm breeze on your skin. Sniff that certain seasonal smell of spring – damp earth, fresh compost, new plant growth, and fragrant new flowers bursting into bloom. And the sights: the brilliant chartreuse of new leaves on trees, earthworms getting back to work, colorful birds building nests. There is an amazing amount of activity going on in the garden each spring to inundate the senses if you pay attention. Get your small children involved and let them share what they see, hear, feel, and smell in the spring.
Technology, certainly an important part of our lives, can significantly distract from being present in the moment and experiencing nature. Leave the smartphone and the tablet in the house and give your garden and nature your full attention. Children especially need uninterrupted time outside away from computer and TV screens. Help them explore the wonders of spring for real and not just learn about it online.
Make a plan
While you are savoring the season, consider how you can improve your outside space. Is your garden meeting your needs and the needs of your family? What can you do to enhance the garden so people will actually utilize it all year long? For example, if lack of shade is a deterrent to summer enjoyment, make it a goal to add some trees, an awning, or simply an umbrella over a table and chairs. Draw people into the garden by adding comfortable seating. Create interesting focal points with a simple water feature or funky garden art. Add plants for seasonal interest.
Set weekly and monthly goals
Work your plan but don’t become overwhelmed. Focus on a few maintenance tasks each week like weeding, adding mulch, or pruning. Just a few minutes spent each day can accomplish much. Your monthly goal addresses what you want to do to make your garden more family-friendly and usable. One month you might add a garden bench, plant a perennial bed, or start a vegetable garden. Another month you could plant some colorful annuals in containers on your deck or build a birdhouse as a garden focal point. Just one small DIY project each month makes a big difference over the whole year. Get the whole family involved with each simple project to enjoy the outside together and experience a sense of pride at each accomplishment.
Let go of your vision of the “perfect” garden
Unless your garden is scheduled to be on a garden tour, you don’t need to strive for perfection. Nature is messy, and a garden will never be perfect. Leaves will continue to fall into your beds, weeds will pop up in every crevice, and insects will make holes in the leaves of your prize hydrangeas. Most gardeners learn to make peace with a garden’s continual challenges and imperfections. It’s a good idea to carry this principle over into life as well. Life, like your garden, will often disappoint, but as the old saying goes…take time to smell the roses!