4 Relaxation Techniques You Can Do in Your Garden or Backyard

PHOTO CAPTION: Getting down to plant level. This cute groundcover resembles tiny ferns tinged in green. Ironically, camellia petals make more of statement on the ground after they have fallen than they do on the tree. Salvia Love and Wishes looks larger than life against the white backdrop of cherry blossoms illuminated in the distance.



This may be the reason I have mixed success in my gardening, but from November through February, my gardening mind tends to go dormant and get taken up by other things - the holidays, bills, business goals, new year's resolutions... My San Francisco garden receives pretty much zero direct sun and zero care from me and seems to go dormant as well. But right around now, the first streaks of sunlight start to break their way through the trees and cast shafts of yellow light over whatever plants have managed to survive despite my neglect - cracking open a thick curtain to little by little wake up a lazy sleeper. 

Last week I went down to take stock of what has been going on. My watering system was turned off and damaged. Several of my favorite plants hated my transplanting them last fall (Agastache and lavender). They do not look they will come back this year and I will have to start over with them. But despite these setbacks, I see minuscule signs of new growth which feed my soul - something that I was too busy to notice that I missed all these months. 

Even just thinking about gardening is like a massage for my brain. I can be completely preoccupied, annoyed or stressed out about something, but I go down to do a little task in the garden and it all melts away. It's like I'm in another world - not just a few feet away from my dirty dishes and messy laundry room. Maybe you have found this in activities like running or singing or dancing. For me it's gardens and sunlight and colors.


The small dramas and mysteries of my backyard. Surprisingly, baby's tears overtake the purple heuchera. All year I fought the foxgloves but I decided to let them win this year and see what happens. And who keeps taking the cover off my garden furniture? Is a dog or cat capable of this?



Are you looking for ways to de-stress? These are things I do that help me forget my troubles and stop and smell the roses - even when there are no roses - in my own backyard.

  1. Get down to plant level and take a closer look. It's surprising how even a  little city garden can take on a different personality just by changing your perspective and forcing yourself to see things from a different angle. Even small plants can become giants. Different textures and colors juxtapose themselves.
  2. Pay attention to tiny dramas. Delicate baby's tears can bully and overtake a larger more robust looking plant. A mess of gray feathers in the shadow of my camellia trees is an indication that a life and death battle took place here and probably did not end well for a poor bird. I hope a neighborhood cat was the bad guy and not my sweet dog. 
  3. Watch how the light falls at different times of day. The sun illuminates certain leaves like magic in the morning but leaves them dark and cold later in the afternoon.
  4. Become familiar with the wildlife in the garden. You'd be surprised how much wildlife there is even in a small city backyard - birds camouflage themselves in the foliage. Bees, ants, slugs and pill bugs each have their own agendas. Dig up a little dirt and maybe you will find worms working their way through the soil.

Slow down and enjoy the magical light patterns created by early morning sun in spring.



4 Relaxation Techniques You Can Do in Your Garden or Backyard