Slow Gardening: A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and All Seasons
“. . . a slow garden is a not a room—it’s an environment that you create little by little, interact with in a multitude of ways, learn from endlessly, and enjoy at all times . . . Mr. Rushing goes on to offer not just his philosophy of gardening but page after page of fun and useful ideas. With an emphasis on sustainability, both for the garden and the gardener, he provides tips on how to garden as well as how to enjoy it.”
Ever since the Slow Food movement, started by Carlo Petrini in the 1980s, began to gain worldwide attention, “slow” has become the new “it” word. Everything, we are now advised, should be done slowly. From art to parenting to travel, if we have to do it, and if we already can’t find time to do it, the curious solution seems to be to just do it—but even more slowly.
So it shouldn’t be any surprise to find a book titled Slow Gardening. Gardening is by nature (pun intended) slow. But you’d never know it if you watch the gardening shows on HGTV or look at many of the gardening magazines available today. Somewhere along the way the focus shifted from gardening as an enjoyable hobby or pastime to slavishly remaking gardens in a day or a weekend. The emphasis is all on the result, not on the process—and certainly not on enjoying the process.
Felder Rushing’s Slow Gardening: A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and Seasons is an answer to that insane “extreme makeover” take on gardening. Mr. Rushing’s slow approach is about “savoring what you are doing.” For him, it’s not just about the garden—it’s also about the gardening and the gardener.
“Slow doesn’t necessarily mean simple or lazy,” he explains. “In fact, it can actually involve more work, just spread out over time in a leisurely fashion. It’s a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach similar to preparing regular, interesting meals at home.”
What? It’s not less work? At first glance, time-strapped homeowners might have a hard time seeing the appeal. But here’s the gist: If your garden is nothing more than an outdoor room that you’ve decorated in a whirlwind, it will be a place that you either sit in or pass through until you decide it’s time to redecorate it, probably in another flurry. But a slow garden is a not a room—it’s an environment that you create little by little, interact with in a multitude of ways, learn from endlessly, and enjoy at all times, not just when you’re sitting and relaxing in it.
The basic tenets of slow gardening are simple: 1) “Take it easy” (don’t make yourself crazy trying to do everything at once); 2) “Get ’er done” (don’t just sit there, dig in!); and 3) “Get together” (learn from and share with other gardeners).
With that groundwork laid, Mr. Rushing goes on to offer not just his philosophy of gardening but page after page of fun and useful ideas. With an emphasis on sustainability, both for the garden and the gardener, he provides tips on how to garden as well as how to enjoy it. In addition to all the basic garden advice you’ll find in lots of gardening books (design, plant selection, and maintenance), Mr. Rushing’s advice extends to related topics like photographing the garden, encouraging wildlife, keeping a garden journal or blog, and sharing the garden experience with children. It’s presented in easily digestible bits that you can take or leave as you like, but as with any well-presented meal, you won’t want to leave much.
But be warned. Mr. Rushing is a guy who lives and breathes gardening, and his joy in it is infectious. If there’s any downside to this book, it’s that it might be too loaded with good ideas. At the same time he’s telling you to slow down and take gardening easy, he’s tempting you with so many fun and enticing suggestions that taking it easy seems like the ultimate challenge.