We walked through a maze of flowered paths in Montreux, Switzerland. My husband Vic rolled a ball with our young son David so I could talk with Paul Brunton, the elderly philosopher we’d come to visit. In 1973 during our first trip to visit PB, as we called him, the old sage took us to the gardens along Lake Geneva where we walked, admired flowers, and rested on wooden benches overlooking the lake. We visited PB for three days and walked through the gardens every day.
“The designer created these gardens as a meditation,” PB said. “This was his spiritual path.”
Years later, I remember the name of the gardens, Lakeside Promenade Fleuri, but can’t find the designer’s name. I don’t need to know his name to understand his mystical practice.
When we returned home to our land in upstate New York, I noticed the deep peace I felt when I sat on the straw mulch and thinned lettuce or when I turned over the earth and raked it smooth for seeds.
I loved being with the plants and observing their growing cycles. My organic vegetables fed me and my family, but they also fed the pollinators and my soul.
“Who will eat all this food?” I asked my sons in the days after Vic’s death when we planted tomato and pepper seedlings, green beans, and more lettuce. Then, we weeded the vegetables I’d planted the month before. We talked about Vic and wept while we worked.
“It’s a great summer to give food away,” David said. He was right.
More than forty years after I understood gardening as a meditation, I still grow enough to give food away.
As I celebrate another bountiful harvest, I hope my photos give you a taste of the peace I find on my garden paths when I can’t quiet my mind on a meditation cushion.
I learned so much from Paul Brunton–from his books, time spent with him in Switzerland and the United States, and working with many others on the posthumous publication of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton. Nothing I learned brought more comfort than the Path of Gardening.
Are you a lover of plants? Do you grow vegetables, flowers, houseplants, or nothing at all? I often share photos of flowers and butterflies, but vegetables are beautiful, too. The vegetable garden has wide mulch paths where I walk and sit while I tend the plants. That’s the most peaceful place for me. Willow likes it, too. For other posts about my relationship with plants and my land, see Planting Joy in a Season of Sorrow or Remember What You Love: Deep Friendship and Thriving Plants.