When you slow down for a moment ...

I am trying to be calm and quiet more. I want to appreciate, enjoy and fully realize my life and what is happening. Life can be one heck of a crazy ride and mine has been going at full speed lately. Even when life is presenting you with many gifts it can be a blur or overwhelming if you do not learn to be in the moment.

Looking back at my posts it would seem that I have taken a crash course on self awareness and living in the now. Perhaps it is turning 40? Perhaps it is realizing how much of my life I have lived and how, when I look back, some of the years seem like they do not count. It is not that they were unimportant, all experiences are important to some degree (Lord I sincerely hope this is true), but some years almost feel like a very long lull when I was not where I was supposed to be and not enjoying being me. What saved me those years was gardening.

A favorite quiet spot at Ault Park.
What's that you say? This is a gardening blog? Right! Let me bring this to my point. I am learning to be more aware of what my life is today; not what was, not what I may be five years from now, but what it is now.

Gardening and touring gardens is one of the best ways for me to be completely in the moment. The more I sit and take in the surroundings, the more peace I find. Practicing garden photography also helps. Photography makes us study a scene from all views, to wait for the best light and to be still until the bee or bird comes into the frame. With photography you have to be focused and paying attention to what is in front of you if you want to do well.
It is still a work in progress. There are too many times that I do not know that I captured a good picture until I am home and reviewing the shots. If I was more aware of what I was doing and really seeing that which I was taking a picture of, surprises would not happen often. Instead, I would know what I had before I went to edit my 'film.'


New Blooms!

It is always fun to see what has transpired in the garden during my absence. I had been away from Ault Park for about a week and was eager to weed, water and hopefully take a few pictures of something new.  A Year in the Park.


The Circle

The beauty of a garden is ever changing. What is a pregnant bud one day is a flower in bloom the next and soon, a seed head and the promise of a garden the next year.
More, including photos at, A Year in the Park.


Returning to the Reserve

If the Bloedel Reserve's Japanese Garden failed to inspire you to be still, be calm and be quiet, then perhaps the moss garden will help you down shift and take a deep breath. The moss garden is like a well designed room. The thick moss is lush and comforting. The tree canopy above creates our personal space; a place in the woods where we are safe and where we can just be for a while.

Fallen trees left to decompose and replenish the forest give life to ferns and small shrubs. The moss garden is a perfect balance. The garden is lush without being distracting. It is like a room with a few key pieces of choice art; enough to give us a reason to pause and reflect without monopolizing our time and becoming a distraction.

And of course, the garden is super cool! When a garden has this much power, this ability to make us stand in awe, the next thing to come to the mind of any true gardener is, how can I create this in my own garden?
Since I have never grown my own moss garden, I turned to fellow garden bloggers for some great information on moss gardening to inform and entice you.
From Gardening and Gardens, read Beauty of Moss or Moss-imize by the WashingtonGardener and Toronto Gardens for some amazing photos of moss walls in Iceland.


Into the Light

I am very new to photography, or at least I should say, thinking about my pictures and how to set them up rather than taking a zillions shots and seeing if anything worth keeping materializes. This week the weather broke and it was enjoyable to be outside. I took my time at the park taking pictures and practiced being more selective in what shots I took.  I was able to get a series of photos showing a praying mantis devouring a honey bee!   With these pictures I shot into the light.

I use minimal color correction (more a way to correct my errors) and I do not use any special treatments with my photos with Picasa or Photoshop. For one, I do not have the time or desire to learn what those programs can do, and second I want my pictures, for now at least, to be as true to the subject in real life as possible.

This is turning out to be an interesting hobby, phototgrpahy, and I hope to improve my work a little at a time.

Munch, Munch

In case you do not visit my other blog, A Year in the Park, I wanted to give you a quick look at what was just posted.  I feel like snacking!  Check it out!


Be Calm, Be Quiet, Be Still

As the ferry boat slipped away from Seattle, cutting through grey water that met an equally grey horizon, I could feel my mood shift to one of reflection mixed with urgency. I was leaving the Seattle Garden Bloggers' Fling early and was already thinking of when I had to meet the cab to take me back to the ferry boat so I could catch the train to the airport and hoping I would sleep on the plane for I regrettably failed to take the next day off from work and had to be back at it at 8 am.  (whew.)

As the day's travel itinerary raced through my mind so did the faces of the ladies I met on the trip. I longed for a few more days with them.  I had settled into my days in Seattle with ease; early morning runs and evening walks book-ended days filled with garden tours. I was smitten with Seattle and its lush vegetation, palpable energy, beautiful architecture, endless water and mountain views and majestic trees.  
I am always at ease traveling alone or with Darryl, my companion. This was my first trip with a group and I was a swirl of nervous energy and excitement when I arrived at the Fling. What a treat to meet and spend time with so many garden bloggers while touring a garden rich city. But I was also nervous; I sometimes feel a bit awkward and self-conscious in such settings. A garden blogger once wrote that she blogs because it is the easiest, clearest way for her to express herself without her shyness sabotaging her voice.   I understood what she meant. Sometimes it takes me a day or two to relax and fit in with a new group. I am old enough to know that my delayed adjustment is from within. In reality, the ladies who attended the Fling were warm, smart, funny and very supportive. I hated to leave some of the ladies I had met just as I was settling in with their companionship.

After a quiet ride to Bainbridge Island, we arrived at The Bloedel Reserve. Map in hand, I broke away early from the group to explore the grounds. I had said my good byes and made promises to keep in touch (a promise I intend to keep). With an early departure, my time was limited so instead of flying around in the vain attempt to see it all, I chose to follow the main road back the entrance and take short exploratory jaunts along the way.
I can only speak for myself, but at times, living in the present takes effort, and that was where I was as I made my way down the drive, thinking of what was to come, not of what was happening at that moment. That was until I paused and looked across this lake. In an instance thoughts of travel itineraries were swept aside and replaced with wonder and awe. I saw tremendous stands of trees in earlier gardens and on my morning runs, but there, as I stood in the rain, alone, I felt the presence of the trees for the first time.

Words like magnificent, powerful and majestic fail to express the feeling one has when you truly experience trees. It is the feeling of being so small as a solitary person and simultaneously as large as life as you experience nature and being in connection with trees. It is feeling the amazing complexity, beauty, history, evolution and life that is nature and knowing you are a part of it. When you let go and experience this you are able to look within and be at peace with yourself; a lot like the tress' reflection in a still lake.

Japanese Gardens and Guest House

Entrance to the Japanese Garden.
The entrance of the Japanese Garden has the same power as a great stand of trees, if we are open to it. Before you pass through the garden gate, the design of this garden foyer guides us to look within, to focus our attention on our immediate surrounding and to de-clutter our mind. Stone, wood and a simple planting create a passageway that is orderly and calm, allowing us to focus on where we are heading, the entrance of a new garden space and experience. The entrance walk to the garden is the space that prepares us for the quiet garden room beyond.
Looking into the garden.

The stone and sand garden compels us to look inward. It is a remarkably calming and soothing space in a setting, the reserve, that is rich in life.

Giving into this garden may take time. It asks us to let go and be quiet, calm and still long enough to clear our minds. I am looking forward to the next Fling, where I will see familiar faces, and I will take the lessons learned from this garden to be still, be calm and live in the moment and not worry about what is yet to come.