Growing Awareness - a gardener on retreat

7th February, 2020
by Julian | 3 Min Read
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Welcome to the latest garden news-post with our Apprentice Gardener Amy Cairns, who also cares for the gardens at The Barn too.

Emerging from the winter sleep...

February has arrived and with it the first flush of snowdrops, crocus and early daffs. Spring is evident all around the garden at The Barn, especially on those sunny days in between storms! This month brings our emergence from winter sleep, spring cleaning, breathing in the fresh air, and appreciating nature’s rebirth. 

New Year retreat for me

I was lucky enough to experience my first 6-night meditation retreat at The Barn in January, and to see the garden from a retreatant's perspective. I was fairly sure what to expect, having worked at The Barn for 3 months, but nothing could prepare me for just how wonderful my retreat was! 

I’m sure everyone who comes on retreat says the same thing, but what a lovely group of people I was lucky enough to meet. Sitting for meditation three times a day, living in community, sharing thoughts and sharing silence, really brings your awareness to the oneness of everything. 

The routine of rising early and practising Qi-gong under the stars, followed by meditation as the sun rose outside the window, changed through the week from a challenge to a gift. I saw the garden in a new light as I carried out my mindful tasks of filling up the birdfeeder, opening the polytunnel doors and emptying the compost in the early morning light. And I was lucky enough to sit under the full moon, singing songs around a fire, in the garden that I usually only see by daylight. 

I learnt so much from my fellow retreatants, from teachers and coordinators, and perhaps most strikingly, from the land itself. My connection with the garden at The Barn is so much deeper after my retreat. Thank you to everyone who makes these retreats possible and works so hard to create a space for personal transformation. 

Winter in the Barn Garden

The garden has been treated to lots of tender loving care over the winter months. Many retreatants have been offering up their DIY skills to mend steps, raised beds, handrails and compost bays. Compost, manure and straw have been spread over polytunnel and vegetable beds, and the willow structures have been pruned and woven into shape.

We pruned and added well-rotted manure to our soft fruit bushes back in January, and it is gratifying to see the first new growth already emerging in the redcurrant patch.  


Sitting quietly, doing nothing,

                   Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself

                                                  ~ The Gospel According to Zen


Pictures by Amy Cairns

Find out more about retreats at The Barn here

Find out more about Sharpham's gardens here