Gardening As A Workout

Spring is almost here and with it comes gardening and seeing new foliage grow and flourish, it’s the season for rejuvenation.

But did you know that while you’re getting your garden ready for the sunny season your also working up a sweat! Wow. Maybe we can have our cake and eat it too.

As a gardening enthusiast, you’ve probably spent hours reading and exploring how to produce a healthier, more beautiful garden or simply how to keep your plants alive and thriving. But have you ever considered how gardening can produce a healthier you without ever having to consume a single home grown meal.

There are so many simple gardening activities like raking, fertilizing, weeding and mowing that can all give you an enjoyable and rewarding workout. Gardening is, in fact, a legit physical activity. Sweet! It’s also a great alternative to traditional exercise because it incorporates elements of exercise while enabling you to engage in an enjoyable activity in the privacy of your own surroundings and amongst your own family.

Elements of gardening such as digging, weeding, trimming shrubs and mowing the lawn can require the same energy requirements as other physical activities such as walking, cycling, swimming and aerobics. It gives you zest for life and can even make you feel younger, after all it reminds us of those days as kids looking for the latest insect.

Gardening helps tone your physique while also tending to the plants. Work such as raking and carrying leaves can tone the upper arms and increase flexibility and strength. Gardening tasks qualify as moderate to high-intensity physical activity, you can expend as much effort raking the lawn as you would during a leisurely bicycle ride…it’s also great at perfecting your squat technique when pulling out those rude weeds.

Not only does gardening help you physically, but it provides us with the satisfaction of a beautiful lawn to look at or fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy. So as the gardening season approaches, consider your gardening time as an opportunity to get a healthier lawn and a healthier you! Go green to get lean, seriously it can put a spring back in your step.

So tell me have you been gardening lately? Would you give up a day of working out to work in the yard? I highly recommend it. You can also incorporate this time and include the kids. Teaching the little ones about plants and seeing them discover the process and transformation plants undergo with both time and seasons is beautiful.

I love the idea that just gardening as a workout can exercise nearly every part of your body. It’s also soothing for the soul to be in touch with the earth, a concept known as “grounding”. It can also be a very meditative activity as you’re absorbed with the task at hand, so it’s great for clearing the mind of white noise. Finally sit back and enjoy the literal fruits of your labour. Simply being in the presence of trees and plants reduces stress, so once your garden is looking neat and tidy it will be time to start the barbeque.

Considered Growing A Balcony Garden?

We’ve all come across bare balconies when driving through our cities, often reminding us of the baron one at our own apartment and then suddenly we spot that one with the lush green walls, planters and hanging baskets and almost instantly feel uplifted. However, if the thought of trying to grow fruit, herbs and decorative plants and getting them to thrive in what might seem harsh conditions bares to much stress to even fathom, you needn’t worry, there is hope in that lush balcony garden.

The trick to getting your balcony to look green is in understanding the conditions of your space and working out what plants will suit the environment. The main obstacles you will face are wind, rainfall and light levels (direct sun or no direct sun).

Establishing the microclimate of your space is rather easy and only requires observation and minor research of your neighbourhoods climate and past weather patterns. (a task you will only need to do once).

So after you have determined the average rainfall in your area, amount of days of extreme heat or cold, and average temperature, then all you need to do is step outside into your space and determine the aspect (sunlight and wind direction). This background and understanding of your environment will give you the information needed in selecting the right plants.

So let’s start with light level. If your balcony, patio or alfresco area faces or takes the brunt of the sun majority of the day then you’re only option is to select full sun loving plants, which are hardy and can withstand the hot direct sun in summer.

By selecting plants that work with your environment it will make gardening so much easier than trying to fight nature. The same concept applies to spaces that receive almost no light at all, which would require shade loving plants in order to make it work.

The best way to determine what plants to even consider is to think about a place or environment that could possibly match yours. e.g., hot and arid driven places such as Mexico, you instantly think of an Agave (used to make tequila). So you will then know that this species of plant will work in your space and is a possible option for your garden or balcony. By selecting the right plants, you will then only need to provide minor assistance in making sure they look green and lush.

So next time you come across a garden or area with a similar garden or balcony environment such as yours just take note of what plants they have growing and how well they’re doing. This will be your starting point at making sure that your balcony garden has the best chance of being a green oasis.

The other factor to consider in the success of your balcony garden is the additional wind the plants are going to bear the brunt of. Catering to a balcony with such an issue will require the need of additional watering due to the leaves drying out faster than those planted at ground level.

The best option is to group your plants and their containers once they have been selected, with the taller plants towards the back and the small ones being visible to the front. By grouping your plants the loss of water will be far less than if they were individually spaced and also reduce the impact the force of the wind.

The Perfect Plant For The Hanging Basket

 

Space planning in high density living is a key factor in making sure your home works for you and the same concept can be applied to your urban garden or balcony.

Lucky for us we have so many options, being wall planters, balustrade planters the traditional pot or the lovely hanging planter/basket all being fantastic choices. Unfortunately though we don’t see hanging planters and baskets used enough.

The use of hanging planters as a decorative means is lovely, as they are perfect for colourful annuals and cascading succulents. There are some great plant options that look brilliant especially when placed above eye level, so today I’m sharing our favourites, so you too can enjoy the understated simplicity of cascading plants hanging from your balcony, patio and alfresco areas.

Christmas Cactus Schlumbergera – A humid loving and low light succulent with its origins in Brazil. The more humid the better, so it’s perfect for the north east coast of Australia. They don’t require replanting often as they thrive in a cramped, competitive environment. Keep them root-bound in well- draining, sandy soil. They bloom during late winter to early spring with spectacular flowers in colours of pink, fuchsia, purple and apricot.

Donkey’s Tail Sedum Morganianum – A Fantastic trailing plant with blueish-green clusters of rain-drop leaves. Native to Mexico and growing in long, hanging bunches. This succulent is easy to care for, requires less water than traditional house plant and adds interest to any environment. The leaves are susceptible to dropping off when handled, so they won’t do well in areas of high wind or clustered against other plants.

Rabbits Foot Fern Davallia fejeensis – Its name comes from the furry rhizomes (which are petable) that grow out of the pot and downward like creeping rabbit’s feet. The lacy green foliage makes a spectacular display when cascading from a hanging planter. A low maintenance houseplant that does well in bright, indirect light or outdoors in a sheltered environment.

Golden Pathos Epipremnum aureum – With marbled green and yellow heart-shaped leaves hanging elegantly, able to adapt and enhance to almost any environment, whether its trailing off a bookshelf, or acting as a privacy screen in a window this is one plant perfect for an indoor hanging planter. Takes low or bright light and doesn’t mind the occasional water-logging or neglect. The variegated foliage can provide a colourful accent to your home.

Fuchsia Fuchsia Spp. – If you intend to use a fuchsia use good soil and give it a spot with shade as they’re not great sun worshippers. Fuchsias flower for a long time, usually October through to March and will flower abundantly with spectacular flowers that look like ballerinas. They prefer to be on the damp side, so keeping them well watered is essential.

Tahitian Bridal Veil Gibasis geniculata – Delicate and dainty trailing plant with attractive foliage ideally suited to hanging baskets, can be grown indoors in a sunny position and outdoors under shelter. Prefer humid conditions, watering when the soil feels dry to the touch. Soak the plant well in a bucket of warm water rather than adding small amounts of moisture ever so often.

Petunia Petunia x hybrida – Lovely annuals and great for a north facing environment, as they require full sun and will bloom from spring into autumn. They are low growing and can either grow bushy or spread on the ground. Pinching some off after the first bloom will encourage more dense growth and flowers. They are available in a vast array of colours and just “wow” when mixed amongst other colours.

Boston Fern Nephrolepis exaltata – Popular for patios with their lush and arching foliage giving it a graceful look. They prefer slightly humid conditions and a well-lit, protected position, so get these growing conditions right and you’ll have a lovely fern all year round. They can also be grown indoors making them quite a versatile plant.

Silver Falls Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’ – An exotic ground cover that works well in hanging baskets, with small silver-grey kidney shaped leaves The wonderful silver foliage of the silver falls is a useful colour contrast in the garden. Drought hardy with foliage that can trail down over the sides of the planter. Will require trimming back to assist keeping the plant dense and full. Great for areas subjected to direct sun.

Nasturtium Tropaeolum polyphyllum – A hardy and delightful perennial, from South and Central America, with edible flowers prefect for a bright salad and well suited to borders and hanging baskets. Tolerates wide range of soils (not too fertile) and dry conditions. Great for either full sun or part shade. Colours, as well as being edible, are what make these wonderful flowers very popular. They come in Yellow, Orange, Red, Cream, and variations of all these colours including a beautiful Ruby.

No matter what the style, size or aspect of you balcony, patio or garden hanging baskets and planters offer endless ways to give it a boost. The only limit is your imagination.

 

Starting a Meditation Garden

 

Everything in the garden offers some form of nurturing, whether it’s food or something visual.

For years we’ve been seeking to create a sanctuary in our built environment that reflects the need for relaxation, contemplation and escape from stress. A garden, balcony or an indoor urban jungle does just that.

People are starving for more nature and serenity in their lives, the great thing about a meditation or a zen garden is that you don’t even have to know anything about meditation to create one.

It doesn’t take years of study under a zen master, though, to feel the calming effects of spending time in a garden or in nature—if only to enjoy refuge from the constant sensory bombardment of urban life. Just being outdoors elicits more awareness of what the world is truly made of.

There is no right or wrong way to make a meditation garden; the whole goal is to make a garden that both calms and inspires you, and when you open your eyes, inspires you even more.

No one knows exactly why gardens have such healing and stress-reducing properties; it seems to be at least partially a primordial reaction wired into our central nervous system. Researchers have found that the more a garden engages the senses, the stronger its ability to distract us from the stressful whirlwind of our thoughts.

The gardens that work best are places that facilitate awe and fascination, bringing you in touch with yourself and your surroundings at the same time. The best way to establish this is to try to see your garden space as an “outdoor room”. It’s a place where you’ll go to relax, rest, and recline, so it will need to have features in it that you find comfortable, uplifting, and secure.

It could also be a place to incorporate your daily yoga routine, or where you spend time with family, either gardening or just enjoying your morning cup of coffee.

If you are going to share this garden with family or others, get their ideas and input too. And always remember that this is your garden; it’s your intent that counts when creating a meditation garden.

You might find really good inspiration in traditional gardens from other parts of the world. While there is no need to follow a theme, having one can instill a sense of calmness through orderliness and focus.

Start a plan. Incorporate all the positive attributes of your existing area and being aware of the size, sound levels, terrain and views of your existing garden (for example, you might already have a pleasant quiet area or a fish pond that you can work around). Begin planning for the desired features that you haven’t yet got. Draw an outline of how you perceive your garden, including the features you intend to add. This plan can be updated and changed as you proceed, but it’s a good idea to begin with a basic idea to work from and incorporate plants in the plan to make sure they work in harmony with each other and the environment.

Use eco-friendly garden solutions and products. A meditation garden is a place to be at one with nature and the Earth; it wouldn’t make sense to drown it in chemicals such as pesticides (insecticides), fungicides, anti-microbials and rodenticides. If you are practicing a philosophy of non-harm, using such toxins can affect the quality of the garden and plants as your well-being. Instead, look for the eco-friendly options to keep weeds and other pests under control within your garden, as well as using eco-friendly plant nutrient options, such are incorporating a worm farm and a compost bin.

Keep updating and changing your garden to suit your needs. As with meditation itself, you to grow and change over time, so your garden should not be stuck in time. Replenish and refurbish your garden as your own needs and wants evolve, just like you would any other space in your home.