“Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.”
“I like gardening — it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.”
– Alice Sebold
Why do we garden? Is it practical? Artistic? Poetic? Primal? Cost-effective? Creative? Spiritual?
Personally, gardening allows me to connect with a small part of nature, which helps me to feel connected to the whole.
Some people garden for good, healthy food. If we grow it, we know what’s in it and what’s not. There are no additives or preservatives, artificial waxes or coatings in our home grown foods. Don’t want pesticides? You have the option of using safe, natural alternatives. Want it fresh from the farm? Walk out to the garden and pluck it up. Want to save some money? Grow your own. Feel like grocery store produce doesn’t taste so great? Home grown can be better.
Some people garden for exercise. You could be out there in nature bending, lifting, plucking, watering, digging and walking while breathing deeply and getting fresh air, sunshine and vitamin D. An hour of gardening can burn 300 to 400 calories while building muscle and improving bone strength. And you have something to show for your work!
Some people garden for aesthetics. A house with pretty flowers, bushes and trees looks inviting. It makes you want to go outside, sniff, look, listen, sit down and read. Some plants and herbs give off a lovely aroma, some make gentle sounds in the wind. Potted plants decorate the indoors by bringing life and color into your home. Many people find plants calming. Their leaves cleanse the air and produce oxygen, improving the indoor atmosphere.
Gardening inspires learning. The urge to garden successfully might lead to curiosity about soil, seed types, water and irrigation systems, weather patterns, plant growth, interaction of plants, local bugs and critters of various sorts, as well as plant diseases, how to keep your plants healthy and wondering what else might grow in your garden. Many an amateur gardener has blossomed into a Master Gardener.
Gardening can generate income. Perhaps those veggies and flowers could be sold at a little neighborhood vegetable stand or farmers market.
Gardening is surprisingly communal. Yes, gardeners love to talk about gardening, passing along tips and personal stories, applauding successful harvests, commiserating over losses. Sharing your fresh grown bounty will endear you to friends and neighbors. If you want to meet new people, consider joining a local gardeners club or gardening website. There are many ways to connect over the love of gardening.
Gardening is creative on many levels. Tending plants involves us in the ultimate creative process of bringing life into being. Each little seed that grows under our care is one of nature’s little mysteries, springing up out of the ground, taking root, sprouting leaves, turning into fruit, a vegetable, a flower, a tree or a bush. We can express ourselves further through our selection of plants and ability to display them. What kind of garden would you like?
Competitive gardening. Got your eye on that county fair? Want to grow a giant pumpkin, boast the most prolific beans or prettiest purple flower? Gardening might be for you!
Gardening for emotional and spiritual satisfaction. Many gardeners love the peaceful feeling of being outside, digging in the earth, breathing the air, getting away from phones and computers, being close to nature. A few minutes or hours in a garden can do wonders to restore peace of mind. Coming into the house with a basket of homegrown vegetables or freshly trimmed flowers gives you a great sense of accomplishment.
Gardening together. Introducing children to gardening can be a source of great joy and lasting memories. I vividly remember growing my first marigolds as a child. I continue to plant them every year just to keep that memory alive. Children might enjoy a little garden of their own or be pleased to help mom, dad, grandma or grandpa, pluck and eat fresh grown fruits and veggies. In today’s world of TV’s, phones and computers, many people don’t realize how little time they spend out in nature. I have even heard this called “Nature Deficit Disorder!” Time in a garden can restore that connection.
Gardening for sustainability. Produce grown at home doesn’t have to be shipped to the grocery store, using up many gallons of gas in the process. It doesn’t have to be packaged in plastic, either. You don’t even have to drive anywhere to get it!
Garden to save money. Think of how much it costs to buy fresh, organic produce by the pound at the grocery store. It can get expensive. Seed packets or starter plants cost a few dollars and produce food all summer or all year long. That’s a real deal.