Plan a Zen or Vegetable Garden

April 7, 2020

If you’re feeling anxious about your new normal and an uncertain state of self-quarantine – take to the soil and start planning a garden. Gardening has ALWAYS been a stress reliever and an exercise in left and right brain collaboration. The resulting sprouts, seedlings and blooms can be a rewarding source of satisfaction, and whether you plan a rock, flower or vegetable garden, they all require full-on concentration and provide a welcome distraction and Zen-like serenity to maintain.

Victory Vegetable Gardens

While seasonal fruits and veggies are still in plentiful supply at the grocery stores, the other essentials’ shortages have prompted some people to plant vegetable gardens reminiscent of WWI victory gardens. There’s been a surge of interest in growing one’s own food, buying seeds and seedlings, and getting elbow deep in dirt. Noticing this trend, Oregon State University made its Master Garden program course free online through the end of April. This post on Facebook about vegetable gardening has been shared more than 24,000 times, proving the therapeutic value of tilling the soil in trying times.

Online seed retailers have experienced a 100 to 300 percent increase in orders and are working hard to keep up with demand. The Burpee Seed Company has been flooded with vegetable orders and seed sales have spiked on everything from artichokes to zucchini! Burpee, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Renee’s Garden Seeds all have an array of choices – you’ll find bodacious tomatoes, lemon drop summer squash, real deal peppers, royal purple radishes, green knight eggplants, silky turnips, and honey cucumbers! On the fruit side of things, look for elderberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. 

Burpee also delivers all kinds of plants and flower varieties – take a gander at their columbines and zinnias! Plus this page of kids’ activities lists items for projects and how-to instructions. Kids can make handmade garden decorations like ladybugs or use discarded eggshells for garden hatchings. The ladybugs use upcycled golf balls and googly eyes, and the shells hold enough soil to germinate seeds like basil and sprouts.

Food From Scraps

Here’s an easy science experiment for kids cooped up and interested in getting their gardens on — growing vegetables from pieces and parts of the originals. Lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, white or sweet potatoes, green onions and garlic scraps are a few weeks away from multiplying in some organic soil with plenty of sun and water.

Your local Walmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot stores, just five minutes from Southshore, are open and selling soil, tools, spring annuals, herbs and vegetables as usual, with other plants and garden supplies. Stores will close early during the temporary COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and limit the number of customers allowed in the store. But everyone seems to be respectful of their fellow gardeners and willing to make the compromises necessary to shop during this time. 

Zen Garden Serenity

It’s not just the act of planting that relieves stress, it can be the plan and positioning of elements that provides calm serenity. Traditional Japanese Zen gardens are gravel or sand landscape gardens combining carefully composed arrangements of rocks, water features, pruned trees and bushes, with sparse foliage. Architecture Art Designs displays a variety of Zen gardens, designed to provide a refuge of tranquility for homeowners in search ideas. 

And this HGTV gallery of photos showcases a slew of simple, elegant and intricate Japanese-inspired Zen retreats.

Some classical Zen gardens infuse symbolism in the rock placement to depict a metaphorical journey of life. Though simple and minimalist, the raked sand or gravel requires regular maintenance to keep the lines crisp and stray vegetation controlled. When studied and contemplated a Zen garden can empty the mind which is the goal of Zen practice.

If you’re more likely to feel peaceful when surrounded by wildflowers and softly textured plants, you’ll lean more toward the wild flower seeds from High Country Gardens – containing a mix of 25 hardy wildflowers. This blend of yarrow, cornflower, chrysanthemum, bachelor button, Shasta daisy, sweet William, baby’s breath, snapdragon and poppy is sold by the pound for growing zone 5b and 6. The flowers will bloom in about six weeks and last all season long.

For fast-growing vines to cover a perfectly Zen pergola or arbor, consult the recommendations of Gardening Know How. You’ll want perennial vines for our growing zone like the trumpet vine with big, bold fiery blossoms on a 30-foot vine, or the clematis which – depending on the variety, can grow from four feet up to 25 feet in full sun. 

Gardening in Southshore

It’s easy to still your mind as you contemplate the vastness of an 820-acre lake – just minutes from the master-planned community of Southshore. Relax and enjoy the natural surroundings – located just minutes from home improvement and grocery stores, restaurants and more. Brand new homes here are built by Century Communities, Taylor Morrison, Richmond American Homes and Toll Brothers. Explore Life at the Lake, in a ranch or two-story design priced between the $400s and the $700s. Call the builders’ sales associates for private tours and virtual tour information.