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Mindful : June 2019
I ABOUT THE AUTHOR Karin Evans is a journalist, author, and aspiring gardener. She lives with her family in Berkeley, California. ’ve spent some happy moments in my own small garden, down on my knees, gently pressing the earth over a handful of seeds or nurturing a young plum tree to bear fruit. I’ve known for a long time that whatever effort I give to my garden, the gifts that I get back are nothing short of miraculous: food for body and soul. But today, as I tour the 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden with master landscaper Peter Good, I discover the gifts of gardening on a completely different scale. Soft-spoken and hand- somely weathered, Good regards this urban oasis in the midst of Golden Gate Park as his spiritual home. “This garden is my touch- stone,” says Good, who has spent decades working here. And no wonder. The botanical garden houses 8,500 kinds of plants from around the world, and every where I look, there is something spectacular to see: rich purple blooms on the rhododendrons, pastel azaleas, and golden South African lilies. On Garden Time Good and I start by stroll- ing along slowly, stopping to finger a branch, sniff a flower, or gaze high up into a tree. On my own, I’d probably walk briskly through this garden, seeing the obvious sights, but today I deliberately slow down to match his lei- surely pace. Reducing the speed, it seems, is part of Good’s secret to gardening; slowing down allows the mysteries to unfurl. I watch as he pauses, kneels down, and lifts a broad green leaf on the edge of the garden path to reveal a tiny hidden bloom, cradling the delicate blossom in his gnarled hands. It’s rose-col- ored and exquisite, hanging upside down from a slender stem. I follow his gaze and peer at what I would have missed—not just the blossom itself, but the beads of mois- ture on the sheltering leaves, bright and reflective as little balls of mercury, and the shiny trail on another leaf, left by a snail. “Asian mayapple,” Good says, turning the small flower over so I can see its full beauty, the waxy petals, the delicate yellow stamens. “This plant is from China,” he adds and softly ticks off → The glossy blooms of the Asian mayapple (Dysosma pleiantha), above, are usually concealed beneath its generous leaves. In moonlight, the Asian f ringe tree (Chiona nthus retusus), right, with its snow-white petals can become luminescent. Below, the ornamental Douglas’ meadowfoam, or ‘poached egg plant’ (Limnanthes douglasii) is beloved alike by gardeners and bees. 46 mindful June 2019 nature