Time to slow down
Slow Gardening to the rescue! An old concept with a new face, now known as Slow Gardening was brought to the forefront by garden author Felder Rushing with the release of his new book, Slow Gardening, a Non-stop Philosophy for all Senses and Seasons.
According to Felder, Slow Gardening is a philosophical approach to gardening which encourages participants to savor everything they do, using all the senses, through all the seasons, regardless of garden type or style. Slow Gardening is an attitude, not a “how-to” list of things to do, or not to do. Visit his new website at slowgardening.net
Slow Gardening was adapted from the Slow Food movement, which started in Italy in the 1980’s by Carlo Petrini as a result of foods and products disappearing from our environment and spurred on by the opening of a McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps in Rome. Slow Food has chapters around the world, and in the US there are approximately 200 individual chapters, including one in Columbus. You can visit the national website at: slowfoodusa.org and Columbus at slowfoodcolumbus.org. After meeting with Carlo Petrini in Italy, Felder took on the task of creating a new movement known as Slow Gardening.
With all the pressures of daily life, don’t add more to your list by having complicated gardens. We can keep it simple and easy to make it more enjoyable. Don’t confuse Slow Gardening with low maintenance; it has much more to do with your passions. Yours may be herbs, topiaries, or succulents. The passion is yours to define and savor.
The concept is to enjoy your garden more by being kinder to the environment, be less competitive for that perfect lawn or garden and on occasion enjoy your efforts on a chaise lounge under a tree. We tend to go full speed for months to get the garden looking just the right way, then end up being burnt out by the end of the season, only to start it all again in the spring. A cycle that most of us would be happier without.
Some relationships can be made with using natives, low maintenance plants and growing plants for our Zone 5 region. We’ve drifted from ‘local gardening’ to pushing the envelope with plants meant for Zone 6 and beyond. I am guilty of that by having banana trees, an olive tree and other tropical’s in my yard. My friend calls it zonal denial. We always want what others have.
We are constantly looking for and reading about the new colors and varieties of our favorite plants. New tools in the market sometimes meant to make our lives easier, only end up complicating it. When my grandmother gardened she didn’t have 3 or 4 trowels to pick from, or a variety of shovels and hoes. She had one of each. Her gardens were beautiful and much less complicated.
Some of Felder’s ideas for slowing down are:
- Right plant, right place — choose pest-resistant plants well-adapted to your local climate and soils, plant them well, and let them grow without being pushed. Try untested new plants in a small area.
- Carefully select and display sculpture or other garden art, for all-year inspiration. Visit Felder’s website at felderrushing.net for his selections of art and bottle trees.
- Grow your own fruit. Make preserves to share with others.
- Lose some of the lawn, making edges and corners easier to mow with less backing up. Lighten up on the fertilizers and pesticides, enjoy a few wildflowers.
- Install a fire pit and waterfall, and use them as occasional relief from television.
- When practical, use quiet hand tools over noisy power equipment. Keep digging and cutting tools sharp and efficient.
- Get personal with your weather — use a rain gauge and outdoor thermometer.
- Enjoy the sun — put up a small clothesline for favorite T-shirts, and make sun tea.
- Garden to encourage year-round wildlife. Include a well-stocked bird feeder.
- Shop at a farmers’ market for in-season, locally-grown produce.
- Take advantage of area garden lectures, seminars, and shows.
As Steve Bender, senior garden editor for Southern Living magazine says, “Maybe you can’t change the whole world. But by slightly modifying the way you garden, you can change your own back yard. And that’s a start.”
Susan Liechty is an OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer.