How ‘Gardening In The Micro’ Enables You to Experience Mindfulness and Joy

– Posted in: Garden Musings


Can you imagine feeling like you’ve created a delightful feast for the eyes with only 4 window boxes?

I can.

I always thought that nothing would replace my love of designing large, sweeping beds.  I used to savor the expansive, long distance views at the end of a long day of being in my garden. I would literally flush with excitement when visiting an outstanding public garden or when opening the pages of a beautifully executed gardening magazine (I still do)!

But guess what? The yearning for that type of larger than life beauty has been replaced by something else. Gardening ‘in the ‘micro’.

Each morning, I can’t wait to check my garden before the pounding rays of the sun take over. I survey my small area of paradise as I walk out the door, take a deep breath, and register the colors that quickly dazzle my eyes like a kaleidoscope.

Then like a child scrambling to get her hand into the cookie jar, I scurry over to the window boxes to see what has been happening over the past 24 hours. There are always surprises.

I nuzzle up to the plants  and then something happens. It’s as if my I’ve  entered a jungle fairyland. The painters…Gaugain, Glackens, and Van Gogh…have influenced the way I perceive colors. But this spring, it is these windowboxes that are opening my senses up to a new way of using colors.

In this micro-jungle, anything goes. Rather than designing with a sense of symmetry, balance, and repetition, I let it rip. My intent is simply to have fun and let nature lead the way.

And am I ever! I’m in awe how overnight so much happens. How the tendrils of a vine might have wrapped itself around the leaves of another plant. Or how the deep purple flowers of the fluted silver leaved pelargonium and gazanzia contrast perfectly with the yellow leaved beans.

After taking off a few dead leaves, and checking the vines draping over the outer ledge of the wall, I do a slow walk about with my camera. And then I begin shooting. Slowly and quietly.

I take a deep breath and experience a feeling of gratitude for being here in this urban paradise…in this moment.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned from ‘Gardening In The Micro’:

1. Slow down. Even if you have a slew of gardening tasks that need to get done, set aside at least 5-10 minutes to gaze, touch, talk to (yes I do), and photograph plants.

2. Develop a beginner’s eye. All of us get stuck in seeing or perceiving things in the  ‘same old, same old’ way. You can train yourself by looking at even one plant from different angles.

3. Be grateful. Communing with nature is an opportunity to experience gratitude for all of the wonderful things you have in your life.

4. Be Mindful. I’ve written extensively about this in my recently updated edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening. But over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered that gardening in the micro’ is a perfect setting for me to practice this state of being.

5. Play. Let go of expectations and perfectionism. Take your ego out of the mix and allow the process of gardening to become your muse.

**Please note: this is an updated version of an article I wrote 3 years ago. I chose to re-publish it because of its message. I am spending much of my time these days coaching  high-performing women 50+on how to live their dream and create a rich and meaningful life; one filled with joy and well-being. So many of us gardeners are blessed that gardening is a conduit for us to experience a sense of peacefulness, beauty, and even rapture. But even we can use reminders–in a world where most of us are over-scheduled and stressed out–to slow down, breathe in the glory of nature, and open to the possibilities of miracles that await you every day of your life.

If you enjoyed this article, please pass the message onto your friends. It’s good karma!!



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Fran Sorin

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
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