The Secrets of Mindful Gardening

Touring the San Francisco Botanical Garden with master landscaper and contemplative gardener Peter Good reveals what curiosity and attention can teach us about gardens—and gardeners.

I’ve spent some happy moments in my own small garden, down on my knees, gently pressing the earth over a handful of seeds or nurturing a young plum tree to bear fruit. I’ve known for a long time that whatever effort I give to my garden, the gifts that I get back are nothing short of miraculous: food for body and soul.

But today, as I tour the 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden with master landscaper Peter Good, I discover the gifts of gardening on a completely different scale.

 Soft-spoken and handsomely weathered, Good regards this urban oasis in the midst of Golden Gate Park as his spiritual home. “This garden is my touchstone,” says Good, who has spent decades working here. And no wonder. The botanical garden houses 8,500 kinds of plants from around the world, and everywhere I look, there is something spectacular to see: rich purple blooms on the rhododendrons, pastel azaleas, and golden South African lilies.

On Garden Time

Good and I start by strolling along slowly, stopping to finger a branch, sniff a flower, or gaze high up into a tree. On my own, I’d probably walk briskly through this garden, seeing the obvious…

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About the author

Karin Evans

Karin Evans is a frequent Mindful contributor, a journalist, and the author of several books, including the bestseller The Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past. She is currently the executive editor at OneSky for all children, and the 2017 Jonathan Rowe Fellow at the Mesa Refuge in Northern California.