A Seat in the Garden


Rose Garden Mesa Community College, AZ

Gardeners love mornings, especially Arizona gardeners.  Early morning is an inviting time to be among the blooms, buds and shrubs, enjoying the changes each day brings to our own little gardens.  Morning is the time for me to take a cup of coffee to my favorite seat in the garden.  I have a little bench that I return to again and again.  Seated here, I can watch the sunrise and the sky change colors between the branches of the 30 year-old olive tree in the east corner of my back yard.

The problem is that in my own garden I never seem to sit very long. I see a spent bloom that needs deadheading, a weed that sprouted up where it simply can’t stay.  I grab pruners, a trug for collecting bits of leaf and bloom that require tending and I start!  A little clean up, a check of the soil for moisture, and on and on I go.  A seat in a garden is my favorite place to be yet it is so hard to sit!

When traveling, it can be hard to sit still. After all, traveling implies moving forward.  By its very name it encourages you to keep moving.  It is tempting to scan the map and set your course to find the best route to cover all the trails to special gardens sites.  You check your time, and head out, aiming to fly through every setting so you don’t miss a thing.  Wandering through a garden, following paths, discovering the perfect combination of color and texture is a must for any visit, yet finding a seat, slowing down, and quieting your thoughts invites surprises.


Wichita Botanic Garden


In public gardens there is an array of seats with amazing variety of pleasures to enjoy.  So when I travel I seek out a seat in the garden.  Benches are the primary form of seating and some are simply better than others.  I like a seat with cover, a great tree that can provide shade or a vine-covered arbor ranks high with me.  If too, that seat offers a great view, perhaps over a body of water and beyond, that is a fine quality.  Some seats frame the view through architecture that defines a space in the setting. When traveling I don’t have my pruners or my watering can, I know the gardening work is under someone else’s charge (often greatly assisted by master gardeners) and as a visitor I am here to simply notice and enjoy all that is around me.  I will confess though to occasionally pulling a weed that I spy.  When I allow myself to find that seat in a garden, I settle in listen intently, look closely, and deeply inhale the scent of bloom and earth.

Butterfly Garden
In the Wichita Botanical gardens there is a section of the garden with wrought iron butterfly benches.  Seated here you wait for the colorful flying residents of the garden to flutter by.
In the Japanese Garden of the Memphis Botanical Garden there is a bench that allows you to gaze downhill over the water.  In front of a brightly painted red bridge the ducks and swans swim in the sun.  Sitting here brings surprise visitors as a robin scratches in the soft ground.
Japanese Garden of the Memphis Botanical Garden
In Shreveport, La at the “Gardens of the American Rose Center” one of the 65 designated garden spaces is a privately funded memorial prayer garden.  In a circular space several secluded benches are place along the pathway providing a seat with all the best elements.  There is shade from a hot Louisiana sun, solitude, a scent of roses and birds in song in the surrounding trees.  A center sculpture is surround by Rose of Sharon, daylilies and hydrangeas in bloom.  The lines “the kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth” quickly come to mind.

A sense of quiet settles in, senses alert, I unplug from the busyness of life and hear new songs, birds whistle, screech and rat-a-tat-tat.  The doves coo, hummingbirds chortle and mockingbirds sing an ever-changing song.  A green-black beetle digs in the dirt, the breeze blows aside the leaves to reveal a heart shaped limb in a nearby tree. The family that endowed this garden sends a gardener every day just to attend to the loveliness of this special place.

The “Gardens of the American Rose Center” have a similar blooming season as here in Maricopa County.  A burst of Rose blooms in October, and again in April is a highlight of the garden.  If you aren’t traveling soon to Louisiana you can enjoy beautiful roses at the Mesa Community College Rose Garden.  Mesa’s Rose garden has over 7000 rose bushes in all varieties and colors. There is a great bench of stone and iron donated by the American Federation of Garden Clubs in honor of their 50thanniversary, where you can sit a while and enjoy the pleasures of the garden.

Whatever inspires, you sitting in a garden will allow you a view that might be missed if you only keep traveling or tidying your own little garden.  Sit down, slow down and find your surprises.

originally published


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