I recall a conversation from years ago with my dear friend Claudia. She has just moved into a charming little cottage in the old Ortega section of Jacksonville, Florida. The house was surrounded by old trees and magnificent, mature flowering shrubs. I was completely taken with the place. I commented to Claudia that I would garden constantly if I lived there. Her response?

“Oh, I love the idea of gardening. But I just don’t want to be outside there all by myself. It would be so lonely!”

Sunflowers at Chicago Botanic Garden

Although this conversation took place, oh, nearly 10 years ago, it has stuck with me, and occasionally crossed my mind, because the feeling that Claudia expressed is so foreign to my own needs and desires for being with nature.

See, while Claudia yearned for company to enjoy nature, I am more like the legendary Hollywood star.

“I want to be alone.”

When I am indoors, I continually bounce from one activity to the next, multi-tasking between home and office and getting distracted with one thing or another. My mind leaps from one idea to another…

“Need to clean the frig…haven’t heard from that client yet…what am I going to do about that programming issue…should I go to the spinning class tomorrow…oops, need to finish that project schedule…can I deliver that report early…”

The internal chatter is a lightening speed, incessant drone.

When I am working in the garden, that chatter gradually subsides. I become lost in the activity. Minutes at a time go by without my having a single thought other than about what I’m doing with my hands.

And although there is no shortage of work for which I could use an extra pair (or more) of hands, I don’t nag my husband or son to join me in the garden because I just want the company of the wind and the birds. (And little dogs, of course.) When they do join me, we usually work at a distance, all of us lost in our own internal worlds. Happily, they share my desire for quiet time.

So you see, perhaps, why I wasn’t entirely sad to be alone in my visits to some of the country’s most spectacular public gardens this past year—the Phoenix Botanical Garden, the Chicago Botanical Garden, the Denver Botanic Garden and the Dixon House and Gardens, among others. Although part of me would loved to share the experience with my husband or another friend, the selfish part of me was happy to have the gardens to myself.

As I wandered through, I could go at my very own pace, lingering over an unusual combination of primroses and cabbages, admiring the coy in the Japanese garden, sitting under the shade of a well-placed trellis.

I observed many groups of families dutifully trudging along after the more enthusiastic members of their parties. Not all the groups looked entirely happy, I must say. Most of the kids looked bored to tears. Not a few were arguing.

So I was glad not to feel I was holding someone back—or dragging them along on my personal nature adventure. There are certainly times when I enjoy the company. But those visits have a different purpose altogether, and it’s not mostly about nature.

And you? Is nature something you prefer to share?

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6 Comments

  • I like gardening & visiting gardens with other garden fanatics. Otherwise, I’m happy in my own little, rose-colored world.

  • Robin says:

    I love solitude when I garden. It is my private therapy.

  • Kate says:

    I don’t need to share nature. I’m fine by myself or with my dog. I’m fine when others are around, as well. Some people just don’t do well when they’re alone.
    I’d like to ask you some questions about Squarespace and couldn’t find an answer on their site. Were you able to incorporate your old blog archives into your new site easily? I can see they are there, so am assuming you were able to! But was it easy to do?

  • I really work best by myself. I love being outdoors in the gardens. I love planning, re-arranging, digging, weeding, planting, etc. But, I also love to enjoy it. (And having friends visit and help me relax in my garden areas doubles the pleasure!) 🙂

  • Hi MMG’s D – Yes, I think other gardening fanatics would be good company when visiting gardens. I could learn something from them!

    Hi Robin – Yes, I think private therapy is a good description. And you don’t have to submit it to the insurance company or make an appointment

    Hi Kate – Well, it goes without saying that the dog is good company! My little beasts are fabulous company. And though they are tiny, they are very adventurous in the garden.

    Hi Shady Gardener – I do enjoy having friends in the garden to relax and socialize–when all the work is done. Yes indeedy. They can tell me how beautiful it is!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • I garden alone most of the time. When I am with others, they tend to ask me too many questions trying to figure out what I am doing. But I like to visit gardens with other garden fanatics, if I can. They understand!

    BTW, I’m glad you left a comment about your new RSS feed, I was missing some good posts here! I guess I was finding a few through some Google alerts I have set up for general gardening topics and so didn’t realize there was no feed!

    Since most of my garden-visiting activities is when I’m on business travel, there are no other garden fanatics to visit with. I don’t think I would mind that so much.

    Robin at Bumblebee

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