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Minimalist Gardening

Management by Walking Around

The concept of Minimalism invites you to understand your outdoor spaces through interacting with them. You can do a lot or just a little, or nothing at all beyond looking at the plants and animals with fascination. The rewards are there for the taking.

          Thus, we can enjoy a bit of light exercise by clipping the grass around and in the plant beds. This will yield a good workout for the solar plexus and the clipping hand. Bending and cutting blades of grass is a very Zen thing to do. I am reminded of the Buddhist who stopped at a tofu hotdog stand and ordered one hotdog. The Buddhist gave the vendor a $20 bill, and the vendor turned away. When the Buddhist asked, What about his change?, the vendor replied, Change comes from within. This is true in the Minimalist Garden.

          Another benefit of Minimalist Garden management by walking around is that we observe the plants and animals as they interact with one another and the environment. We may not immediately have solutions, but we can admire the problems. We do know that with Minimalism we do more by doing less. As we commune with our outdoor spaces, the answers will come.

          Plants selected for our landscape are native to our area and adapted to the weather conditions, soil type and wildlife interest. Our approach is to be patient and allow these plants to claim their space. Our role is limited to aesthetics and the calisthenics of the exercise.

          We have also learned that it is wise to surround the plants tasty to the deer with plants the deer do not like. We will remember this when we replace the coneflowers and asters eaten by the deer — after our research said they do not like these plants. Our observation is that the deer will not bother the switchgrass or butterfly weed, so we will use these to foil our grazing neighbors.

          We must be careful not to fabricate a problem that is not there through our misunderstanding of the ecology. It’s like the guy in the office who thought it charming that people would name their food as he ate a sandwich named Kevin. In the Minimalist Garden, we must be careful not to misinterpret the observations we make.

          Our approach requires both consistency and tenacity. This is both a benefit and a drawback. The benefit is that it becomes a ritual part of our daily lives, helping us stay healthy and in tune with the natural world. The drawback is that we must persuade ourselves to do things that we ought to have sense enough to do without needing to be persuaded.

          The serenity prayer is a good message to live by in the Minimalist Garden and elsewhere in our lives: “May we have the serenity in accepting the things we cannot change and the courage to change what we can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

          Our journalist community is enduring a great healing process from the loss of five talented and caring and worthy men and women whose job it was to inform and entertain and give us voice. We owe a debt to them and all the others who care. I hope that in some small way this column will make you smile and encourage you to get in touch with your outdoor spaces and begin the healing of our community.