Friday, 13 February 2015

Gardening with ME: gardening in your head

Sometimes I garden in my head.

There are times when I simply have no energy to garden. I don't mean no energy for a few days. I mean no energy for weeks. Throughout January and into February I was unable to do any gardening. Not only was the ME bad, but the cold was triggering terrible pain, so the combination of both meant I had to stay inside and just look out the window into the garden.

When I first found that ME was interfering with my ability to garden, I would think about gardening but would get really frustrated and depressed that I couldn't actually be out there in the garden. You don't get over ME quickly, and you don't want to feel like this on an ongoing basis; it just gets you into a downward spiral.

So I started to explore gardening in my head. I try to put aside the frustrations and instead visualise being in the garden. I'm out there, it's the middle of summer, I'm picking broad beans and the first sweet peas. There I am weeding. I love weeding - it's kind of a zen-like activity to me. I totally zone out and am just in the moment. It's very mindful.

Sometimes when I am gardening in my head, I can get quite carried away. Instead of fantasy fiction, it's fantasy gardening. I let the visualisation process run wild and can see the garden as it will be one day. The bespoke greenhouse on the garage wall filled with salads and greens in winter, young seedlings in spring, a hothouse for my aubergines in summer, propagating cuttings in autumn. The vegetable beds are overflowing with food to harvest and I find that even though my garden is small, I have an over abundance of courgettes and pumpkins; my friends won't answer the door when they see I have yet more to give away. The back border is sunny with sunflowers, rudbeckia, stipa gigantia, cornflowers and poppies and there is a constant hum of bees collecting pollen. The alpines on my alpine wall are bursting with flowers and flow down the wall; the ferns in the long shady border offer cool relief to the eyes in the middle of summer. I'm sitting in the garden with friends, laughing, enjoying life.

And when I 'wake' up from gardening in my head, I find I am smiling, and physically feeling happy. I'm not frustrated about what I cannot do, but hopeful about the future I see in the garden.

Gardening in your head does have a practical element. I've been visualising my new bog garden, what I might move around, what plants I might add, how it will look etc. I had decided to put in a pond in the bog garden, which I mentioned in my January end of month view. But having visualised this in my head and visualised doing the tasks and realised just how much work it would require, I've changed my mind. I can move and add plants one at a time and feel comfortable with this amount of planned work. As I also mentioned in my early January post Gardening with ME: planning the kitchen garden year, I have to be careful where I use my 'gardening spoons', and I do have plenty of plans that will keep me busy in the kitchen garden. So for now I won't be adding a pond to the bog garden. But I'll continue to garden with it in my head.

Of course I'd rather actually be in the garden. But when you have ME, you have frequently have to accept that you cannot do what you want to do. So I garden in my head.

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Tim over at Notes of Nature has joined in with the #GardeningWithME meme, and latest post is on ensuring you have the right clothes and tools when gardening with ME. Do visit his post Getting Comfortable.

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I welcome your comments and thoughts. And if you blog about gardening with ME/a chronic illness, link to this post in your blog, and leave a comment below with a link to your post, so we can all find each other.

About Gardening with ME

Twitter hashtag: #GardeningWithME

Recent Gardening with ME posts...
  Gardening with ME: planning the kitchen garden year
  Gardening with ME: sowing broad beans via micro-tasking

6 comments :

  1. This is a brilliant, brilliant post. I hope lots of people read it and it helps them too :-)
    Martin

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  2. I can totally relate to this. Early on with ME, I had about 6 months of totally detesting the fact we had a garden (when, of course, we're very lucky to have one). Luckily my wife is more onboard with gardening now, so it's much easier. It's wonderful to hear that your mindscape gardening brings you so much pleasure.
    Thanks for including my post :)

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  3. This is so relevant to anyone with a health problem that stops them getting out there. This adds a spiritual dimension to gardening that others perhaps miss.

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  4. I can totally relate to this too, with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Fibromyalgia I frequently have to leave my garden to its own rather than do what I like best – being outside pottering about. I have a special place in Cyprus where I go to then, where I have a house at the beach with a wonderful garden I have designed from scratch. I know where everything is planted in that garden and the weather is always nice and gentle to my achy joints. One day when I win the lottery I will have that house and the garden for real :-)

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  5. Oh yes, I spend a LOT of time gardening in my head! And though I do find it frustrating sometimes when the actual gardening takes so much more time and effort, it's also great fun because imaginary gardening has no limitations and endless possibilities. When we were house-hunting I mentally redesigned so many gardens!

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