I’ve taken to sitting and wandering in my garden with my eyes closed.
It’s an interesting experiment in gardening and one I recommend to each of you. You see, I don’t think we truly appreciate how fortunate we are to be able to see the flowers and plants in our gardens but this fortune comes with a price to pay.
The price is, of course, our shutting down of our other senses – we ignore them for the most part – to concentrate on our vision.
Speaking for myself, I wander the garden looking at the plants and colors. I see the designs and maintenance but I rarely take the time to focus equally on my other senses. Oh, to be sure if a rose or other fragrant flower comes my way, I’ll take the dutiful and obligatory sniff but for the most part, my vision is my most used garden tool.
I decided it was time to remedy this focus on a single source of perception.
I closed my eyes.
The Sound Of Wind Moving Through The Garden
With my eyes closed, I’ve noticed and truly enjoyed some interesting differences in my garden. I know that the wind isn’t a steady event, either blowing on or off at a regular pace, but when I paid attention to it in the garden there was an entirely new dimension to its wanderings.
- The first is of course that I could hear it coming. My tree leaves would be silent in a moment of windless time but the trees in the neighboring bush would start to rustle and then slowly but surely the rustling would approach my bench.
- I would feel a gentle draft on my skin before the trees would start to talk and then slowly but surely a drum roll of rustling leaves would announce the wind’s presence in the garden. It was stereophonic sound at its best.
- The gust would leave as it entered, my trees would stop and I’d hear the gust move over to the barns and out across the fields.
The Birds In The Trees
Playing melodic counterpoint to the wind’s beat were the birds. Each and every one of these creatures has his or her own song and if you concentrate enough, I think you can identify individual birds of the same species. They may be singing the same song but individual birds change it ever so slightly and ever so nicely. I have absolutely no idea which song belongs to which bird species as I’m not a birder but there are some pretty soaring songsters living around my garden. I don’t even think I want to see them as that would ruin their awesome beauty.
The one distinctive bird sound was the harmonics of the hummingbird wings as they throbbed by on their way to insects and nectar.
And Then There Are The Insects
The bass section was composed of whirring insects. Now, I did peek every now and then to discover what was whirring by.
I had no problem at all with the high-pitched whine of the mosquito; I’d recognize those critters any time. I did discover that wasps make a quite pleasant steady deep whirring sound as they are foraging and working away.
When not confined to the house and divorced from the instinctive fear they arouse, their wing sound was quite interesting and distinctive.
Bumblebees are my favorite insect sound though; their deep drone is quite distinctive and terribly amusing as they stumble from blossom to blossom. I’m glad they sound the same as they look; I’m not sure why but I do have a soft spot in my heart for this insect.
I could have done without the deer fly and its sounds although I did my best to ignore its dive-bombing. It paid the ultimate price for teaching me to recognize its wing beat drone as it circled my head looking for lunch.
The Flowers Still Happily Encroached Even With My Eyes Closed
With my eyes closed, the plants themselves took on a new dimension.
The roses were the most obvious winner although the wind makes getting a full dose of rose fragrance a hard task.
I have several herbs growing in the main gardens and while I almost killed myself getting over to them without opening my eyes, once I was there they became quite an experience. I sat beside them and rubbed the leaves and basked in sensing these plants in an entirely novel manner. I’ve smelled all of them before but I had never made an expedition of it. Rather I’d grab a handful of leaves in passing to remind myself of why I let such a drab plant live in my main borders, before moving onto other showier plants. This was its main day in the sun and it did not let me down; it earned its place.
I Confess I’m Reliant On My Eyes
While my senses of smell and hearing were encouraged, I have to confess that I wasn’t too brave about wandering about the garden trying to find my way by feel alone. There are too many roses in my garden and those girls bite back when molested or grabbed by a stranger. Bravery has its limits.
I did wonder about feeling the Onopordon with its spiky immature leathery leaves. I confess I made sure to steer clear of that killer plant. I did get to some trees by sight (they’re across a field with too much tree debris that hasn’t yet been cleaned up) but closed my eyes while running my hand over the bark of my Chestnut and Apple trees.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to wander around my garden with my eyes closed every time I go out but I find myself stopping for a moment and closing my eyes at unexpected times and parts of the garden.
The garden is a strange environment when you open yourself up to using all of your senses in it. Not only is it strange but it is wondrous. I’m not going to suggest you do the same but if you do happen to see me wandering about in mine, you’ll know that I’m exploring my garden from another perspective and revelling in it.