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Mindful : June 2019
This takes time and a willingness to sit still past the moment when you get bored, or past the moment when you think of at least 30 worthy garden tasks that you need to accomplish immediately. Instead, give yourself all the time in the world, and don’t move.” I think of the biologist David Haskell, who spent a year studying just one circle of earth, a meter in diame- ter, and found enough going on there to write a whole book about it, The Forest Unseen. I’m beginning to get the barest hint of how he found enough material. My own garden has held surprises, too. Once, Imovedarocktofinda moist little salamander hiding underneath. As the warmth of the sun reached it, the small brown creature moved one delicate long- toed foot, then the other, completely vulnerable to any careless movement of the rock that had pro- vided shelter. I gingerly put the rock back in place, delighted to have shared such a rare private moment. Good and I walk along a path into the Botanical Garden’s primitive plants area, where shady clumps of horsetail ferns grow, along with other age- old plants, the kind that formed the fossil matter of our modern fuels. He points to a Wollemi pine, a tree species dating back millions of years and until recently thought to be extinct. But a specimen was found in a remote can- yon in Australia, he tells me, and seeds and cuttings have since been carefully distributed to various areas of the world, to reestablish the species. He sees this as a hopeful sign. “Even in dark times in history,” Good says, “nature is still there, still bountiful, still providing comfort.” I take in his words, savoring their meaning and the calm that has envel- oped me while in this lush landscape. After a long pause, we walk slowly back into sunlight and sit on a bench. “Look up,” says Good. A drooping profusion of exquisite white blossoms is gently swaying overhead. “It’s a Chinese fringe tree, and we are here at the per- fect moment.” After saying goodbye, I leave the garden moving far more slowly than my usual pace, having seen far more than I usually see. I look forward to getting home to my own small garden, to see what secrets I can discover in my own patch of earth. ● “ When you slow down, the real garden is uncovered, and so is the real gardener. You unfold together.” Wendy Johnson, in Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate