Arbor Week

In South Africa we have a whole week dedicated to Arbor-ness. There is great stuff going on all over South Africa one hopes, although a Google search produces more events from previous years and to be honest I haven’t seen anything but then I don’t get out much.

I am celebrating Arbor week by planting some indigenous trees in my Bird Garden. I went out to Grow Wild Indigenous Nursery this afternoon to buy them. It’s a brilliant nursery, although not much to look at. Their website is a fantastic resource for finding a plant that matches your requirements, they responded within a few HOURS to my query AND they have 20% off trees for the whole of September in honour of Arbor week.

The trees of the year for 2014 are White Ironwood (Vepris lanceolata) , which conincidentally I had been eyeing in my book, and the Lavender Tree (Heteropyxis natelensis). I bought a small one of each and a Wild Pear which turns out to be the Pink Wild Pear (Dombeya burgessiae) instead of the Dombeya rotundifolia. Both have beautiful blossoms so I’m sure I will be just as happy with it, perhaps happier, but it just goes to show the importance of Latin names; or tree numbers.

I hope where ever you are in the world you are planting a tree for Arbor week, if you don’t have a place for one yourself there are great schemes for community planting.

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Mindfulness

Last week felt depressing, everything dry and dusty and dead-looking. I got into one of those moods where I couldn’t see any sign of things changing; somehow I settled into the feeling that the witch had taken over Narnia and we’d be left in an eternal winter. Of course it’s never true and in the last few days I’ve started noticing the signs of spring coming.

Flowers opening on the jasmine. Oh the scent!

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Strawberry blossom, just when I was thinking that they ought to be getting a move on.

This lovely Spanish lavender I honestly thought I’d killed.

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I think we spend a lot of time not seeing the world around us yet being unhappy with it. We get so wrapped up in our lives that we stop noticing how marvelous the world is, what a completely fascinating, improbably thing life is. One of the great things about a garden is that it brings us back to the essence of life. Every shrub, flower, tree that grows from a tiny seed is a miracle. It is all insanely fantastical and yet it happens, again and again, and we should honour that by taking notice.

Mindfulness is a practice rooted in Buddhist philosophy. There is research ongoing into the positive effects of mindfulness on health and well being and it is defined by the Mindfulness Institute of South Africa as

“[referring] to awareness of present experience with acceptance, which arises when we pay attention, on purpose, without judgment, to what is occurring in the present moment.”

When visiting a garden you wander through in this state of mindfulness, perhaps this is why gardens are being used more and more widely for recuperation and rehabilitation programmes, but often in our own gardens we are so focused on the jobs to be done we forget to visit it. How crazy to put so much effort into our gardens and not enjoy them, like baking a cake and letting it sit there uneaten. Is this just me?

I used to start my mornings with a walk around the garden, a habit I am determined to get back into. When my kittens were little they would follow me; added to my own daily discoveries were their discoveries of the world around them. I remember the first time they stepped on wet grass and saw a dry leaf scuttling past.

Can there be an easier or more pleasant way to improve your health than with a daily walk around your garden, not for the purpose of getting anywhere or doing anything but just to be in it at that moment? Even better, it’s free (or at least you’ve already paid for it).