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Mindful : June 2019
The huge 200-year-old Monterey Cypress by the park’s entrance is impres- sive enough above ground, but beneath the soil the tree’s roots are an equally powerful presence. Under- neath our footsteps, Good tells me, those tree roots are communicating with each other. “Plants are also tac- tile,” Good says, stopping beside a massive tree with thick rusty-brown tangled skeins of stiff plant material hanging down in bunches. I’d never seen—or fingered — anything quite like it, and on my own I would have passed it by. “Aerial roots,” explains Good. “It’s a New Zealand Christmas tree, and these bunches of roots reach down to grab the earth and help stabilize the tree when it grows on precipitous slopes.” The more I slow down and linger, the more I see: a ladybug climbing up a stalk, a beetle slowly making its way into the grass. “ When you slow down like this, the real garden is uncovered,” writes Wendy Johnson, who started the gardens at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Muir Beach, California. “And so is the real gardener,” she adds. “ You unfold together. → The garden is full of raw energy, with more going on beneath the surface than I’d ever imagined. Master landscaper Peter Good in his “touchstone,” the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Offering food to butterflies, strawflower plants (Helichrysum dasyanthum), right, are native to South Africa, while the Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), below, is a California native and is considered a vulnerable species. 50 mindful June 2019 nature