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Need a break from the election? Turn to your garden

If you’re like me, you need a break from all of it. It may be time to turn off the smartphones and shut down the laptops. Close all the communication doors and welcome the sweet silence. Go outside and be with nature. Enjoy the beauty you created in your garden.

It is an excellent time to hang out in your sanctuary. Breathe! In this space, we ban the world of despair and drama that we allow into our waking hours. The garden is where to find peace. The world will continue to spin its tales despite where we are now. We can always return to the pre-election chatter later, as it will not end until next month.

Moon Gate
Moon Gate

Listen to the black-capped chickadee chirping in the maple tree you planted several years before. The tree is turning into a mass of flaming orange and red leaves. Stop thinking about what he or she said or what they did or did not do. Step away from sensationalism.

Realize your breathing is slower and deeper, and your shoulders have dropped from the tense up-around-your-ears position. Now, nothing else matters but the beauty of the first crimson flag flower (Hesperantha coccinea ‘Oregon Sunset’) opening. Smell the earthy fragrance around you and ground yourself firmly into this space.

If it’s too cold or rainy, establish a sitting area next to a window with a view of your sanctuary — new rules for this space — no distractions allowed. We sit, we look, and we relax. When we relax, we appreciate. When we appreciate, we are grateful.

In the garden, we empty our minds of the day’s dramas. Fill it with beauty. Create a focal point — a place that draws your eye, such as a beautiful maple tree with brilliant autumn color.

What do we plant in our no-politics space? It’s a late summer to mid-fall garden with lots of possibilities.
Sometimes, simple and elegant is all you need, like a substantial pot surrounded by a sea of evergreen plants. Think — less is more. A sculpture, water feature, or even a birdbath will work too. Choose something meaningful.

Face Sculpture
Face Sculpture

Around the base of a focal point, plant for texture and color. Swaths of plants such as Leucothoe ‘Curly Red’ and Heuchera ‘Fire Chief’ echo the fiery colors of autumn trees. Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ flowers slowly turn shades of rusty red. In the shade, ferns give a subtle textural element to a space.

We also need a table, chair, or comfortable bench to sit and enjoy the surroundings.

When you go outside, give a birdbath an offering of a late flower or a fallen leaf to float on the water. It’s a symbol of yourself floating above the chaos the elections churn up. The world will continue to spin its tales despite where we are at this moment. Offer up a prayer, sit quietly, or meditate in your garden.

Even when there is no election, life throws a lot at us. But for now, take calm moments in your garden to ease those election jitters, and when that ballot comes to your mailbox, take a deep breath and cast your crucial votes!

Moon gate photographed in the Carhart garden on Vashon Island. All others in author’s garden.

Originally written for Teashon’s Garden Life column in Kitsap Weekly. 2016 It still holds true for 2022 — even more so with the state of the world right now.

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