Stop and See the Roses

By Linda Wiggen Kraft, 
Healthy Planet Green & Growing Editor

I write this article as the U.S. begins the slowing and stopping of daily interactions. Hopefully time away from others will succeed in stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

Gardens are safe spaces during this trying time. Being outdoors is good for our physical and mental health. Sunshine brightens our life and illuminates the beauty of nature. To know the profound beauty of our gardens takes time. Georgia O’Keefe said, “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.”

Looking slowly and deeply at the plants, flowers, trees, sky, grass, birds and all parts of the garden awakens us to a beauty we may have quickly passed over before. There may be a place to sit and observe your garden. If not, carry a chair outside. Sit and take time to see. One way to deeply see is to be like a camera. Begin by letting your eyes soften and become aware of peripheral sight, your wide angle seeing. Take it all in, not focusing on any one thing. Settle into a softness inside yourself. Let your heart open into its sensation of “seeing”. Sit and see in this way for a few minutes, breathing in the beauty. During this time a certain plant, or flower, may call to your attention. Like a camera lens, let your sight focus in on what has called to you. Get closer. Focus in. Caress this flower, or plant, with your eyes. Look at the shapes, the edges, the colors. 

Let yourself be a poet and artist in these times of seeing. Bring papers, pencil or pen outside with you. There is a simple poem form called acrostic. The letters of a word are arranged vertically down a page. Each letter becomes the first letter of a short line of words inspired by what is being observed. For example “rose” has four lines. The first line begins with a word starting with the letter “r”, and so on. No syllables are counted, just observation. An example for a “rose” acrostic poem is: “rain drops on petals”, “one world in a drop”, “seeing for first time”, “eyes open my heart”. 

Become an artist of your garden. First be like a child who doesn’t know how to write just make lines and shapes. When looking at a flower or plant, look at some of the edges. Without looking at the paper draw the line of part of an edge. Make lines much bigger than the actual size if you can. Don’t care what these lines look like. Make five or six lines. When done, look at these lines and see them as the dance of the flower, or plant, in space. Take other sheets of paper and play with shapes and lines realizing it is this process of really looking that counts not what is on the paper. You are seeing and knowing that flower in a way you probably never had before. These are not meant to be realistic drawings, they are abstract play perhaps learning the language of how nature speaks with its shapes, colors and beauty. Georgia O’Keefe knew that her large abstract flower painting would help others really see a flower. She shared: “If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself — I’ll paint what I see — what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it — I will make even busy New-Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.”

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She guides others to connect deeply with nature through nature journeys-forest bathing. She is also a mandala artist and creativity workshop leader. Her website and blog are at www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. Her phone is 314 504-4266.