You know how in summer you might notice a bee on a wildflower, collecting pollen and getting nectar? Usually the temperature’s warm and the sun’s out. The flower glows with color. You may hear a faint buzz, the song of birds. At that moment, you often feel a brief interlude of neutral relaxation. Calmness permeates the air. All is right in the world. Nature’s at work. It’s a peaceful time to cherish and a lovely slice of stress relief.
So in anticipation of this summer, I’m once again giving away wildflower seeds! Each packet contains coreopsis, coneflower, cosmos, black-eyed Susan, clover, marigolds, and more. All the flowers that bees like and keep their colonies thriving. If you’d like to get a free packet, sign up for my digest. Every month, I send a collection of interesting stuff to explore: ideas for books to read, plant news and gardening tips, music & film finds, my latest inspiration, advice on creativity, and more. Oh, and giveaways!
Speaking of which, if you’re already a subscriber and want seeds, watch for my next (March 7th) newsletter. In it, I’ll let you know the easy way to get the seeds. Until then, get your ground ready! Spring is coming and I have a feeling it’s going to be a happy growing season this year!
A couple days ago, I talked about the importance of playing with plants. As I mentioned, play researchers have found play boosts our spirits and deters sadness. So today I thought I’d offer three unique ways to play with plants. There are, of course, many ways to play with plants but I’ve noticed they mostly focus on children, as if play doesn’t apply to adults. So here are three ways to play with plants for adults. I know that kids are our pride and joys, but your well being matters too.
Plant Plants in Weird Planters
You’ve probably seen pictures of planters in old boots and such. That’s cute and what not but planting in footware kinda grosses me out. Having said that, there are so many other items you can grow plants in. (See the crazy head above.) I’ve been messing around with my own unique planters and I’ll write a future post in more detail about what I’ve been planting in. In the meantime here are a few ideas.
What about an old sewing machine with a basket inserted in the cabinet’s opening? It seems every charity store has the sewing table but not machine inside. Also, what about tomatoes in an old trunk? Goodness knows there are a ton of those that have little use nowadays. Especially the broken or curved ones. Or how about a water lily in an old crystal candy dish? The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
A Fantasy Garden for Grown Ups
When a friend of mind was a boy, he had a little castle. He dragged it outside and gathered moss, sticks, rocks, and other little plants to landscape around his castle. He played battles and tournaments, even had a dragon. It’s no wonder he became a medieval historian and a gardening nut as an adult.
So how about, instead of a fairy garden that’s for kids, why not create a fantasy garden for yourself? Like a Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings garden? You could buy or build a lego castle and create a mini landscape around it. I even know where you can get a Tormund action figure (email me.) The upshot is if you have kids, they’ll want to play too.
Salty Chips Only With Yummy Leaves
You know how kale chips are all the rage? Or were a few years ago? I’ve made them several times myself. But really, the bottom line is I don’t want to eat kale that much. Potato chips are better, right? But what about drying and eating other plants? Besides root vegetables. What about artichoke heart or brussel sprout chips? You know how they naturally flake off anyway? Also, what about zuccini or carrot chips? Or spinach or butter lettuce? Leeks? It seems to me almost any green leaf that’s not bitter might work. And most leaves are less bitter than kale.
This spring, think about how you can have fun with plants. And if you already have ideas and methods, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Photo by Nick Fewings
Yesterday, in writing about why playing with plants makes us happy, I came across this lovely fractal pattern leaf. So for today’s Daily Stress ReLeaf, I thought I’d do a short post and share it. You may have learned from a previous post about why gazing at these fractal images is so healing for souls. To refresh your memory, their natural patterns fit with the way our eyes naturally scan images, making for a congruent experience that relaxes us. After all of these years as a gardener, it’s still hard for me to understand how a leaf can make itself this way. It’s so spectacular and complex and yet so usual.
The Power of a Close Up
I wanted to write about the image’s photographer but it came from FreePhotosArt on Pixabay. There’s not much information about the person but they seem to be Russian or in that part of the world. In addition to the fractal pattern leaf, they’ve put up photos of forests, fields, train tracks, and other dreamy images of nature. If you need photos for a blog or website, or just want to explore, check out this talented person’s work.
I hope you have a few minutes today to take in this image’s loveliness. It will help lower your heart rate and calm you.
Have a great day!
Today I was thinking about why to play with plants. It seems frivolous and like not something that matters whether we do or don’t. But play offers a host of benefits and since plants can relax us, playing with plants can create a special kind of fun happiness. Here are five healing benefits of play according to play therapist and researcher Charles Schaeffer.
Play elevates the spirit
Because the goals you pursue when you play are ultimately non-consequential, it takes the pressure off. So, when we play, we feel energized rather than sapped of energy. Fiddling with houseplants or gardening or even tossing a ball amidst trees combines the visually relaxing benefits of plants with the lighthearted euphoria that play offers. A great combination.
Play begets optimism
During play we sometimes win or accomplish a little goal, which can be a pleasant surprise, but when we lose or fail at whatever we’re doing, we’re usually not too upset because the goals aren’t consequential. That’s the theory anyway. So because the pressure’s off, we’re more likely to maintain a relaxed feeling that everything will be okay. Plants are similar. If you care for just one plant successfully, you’ll feel more positive about yourself and perhaps ready to take on another.
Play teaches new skills
When we play, we often develop a skill without really trying. Take for instance, guitar. I love playing around on the guitar, figuring out new melodies while also practicing chords and the songs I love. There’s really no pressure. Applied to plants, you’ll learn more about how to best care for them by reading up on what conditions they like and experimenting with what to do from day to day. If you can maintain that feeling of fun for the sake of fun, you’ll get better at horticulture while hardly noticing.
Play betters our physical health
Not only does play provide a sense of optimism and elevate the spirit, if done as a physical activity, it can get us in better shape. We all know that playing a game of tennis will circulate our blood, strengthen the heart, and release the happy drug of endorphins. So, playing physically with plants can do the same thing. And by that, I mean gardening in your backyard or hiking in the woods or even riding a stationary bike while watching a houseplant video. It all adds up to better bodily health.
Play connects us to others
When we play with others, we see each other for our best, most lighthearted selves. We also monitor our feelings as well as other people’s feelings. It’s excellent practice in social interaction. Plus, we don’t feel so alone and make wonderful shared memories. Our family has played a lot of badminton and has shared memories around that. But you don’t need a yard. If you can get into nature and stroll with a friend or toss a ball around in a park, you’ll take in those fractal patterns while building better relationships.
Do you ever play with plants? If so, let me know how in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas.
Photo by Khamkhor
Today I wanted to share the lovely bread art I came across online. It shows a fun way to put plant art in food and play for the sake of play. It also offers a new idea for getting some stress releaf. With chives, basil, peppers, onions, olives, and all else, you can use plants to create a beautiful bouquet of flowers in focaccia bread. It’s almost too pretty to eat!
The trend began with Vineyard Baker on Instagram, who as she says puts the art in artisan bread. She has several great ideas for plant art in food, including dessert breads, which use fruit and nuts. Afterward, Elizabeth at Sugar Geek Show showed us a great basic recipe for baking a bouquet into bread. Apparently, it’s fairly easy. You stretch your focaccia bread into the edges of a sheet pan so it makes a rectangular canvas, then let it rise, then decorate and bake. I love it!
I haven’t tried it yet but I’d like to. I imagine you could use certain vegetables, herbs, and spices if you want more of an Italian flavor, Mexi flavor, Middle Eastern, etc. I might experiment with my daughter this weekend. If you try it, let me know. I love it when people get creative with plants!