I think the true rewards of gardening are bigger than the sum total of its many obvious and well-publicized benefits: the work-out that you don’t even feel sometimes that dispels stress, improving our heart health, mental health, and physical dexterity. Gardening reduces our risk for a number of ailments and strengthens our immune system; but most importantly, it gives us the veggies and flowers themselves in their glory and accomplishes all this with no treadmill or prescription in sight.
Beyond the usual reasons - to grow our own organic herbs and vegetables, the love of nature, “it’s therapeutic for me”, or “I need to be outdoors”, there’s always a story, a very personal story. Whether being in the garden is a need to reconnect with our childhood in some countryside around the world, or just a way to balance our busy city lives, there are so many layers to this attraction that sometimes we’re not even aware of.
You may have a Proustian moment one early spring when you go and plant the first seeds of the season and realize that smell of the earth brings memories of you and your grandfather walking home from the vineyard, way back. Or you may go to have your coffee in the garden on a Saturday morning, with a slightly stiff back and thinking the garden is in good shape, no need to get down to it. But then one weed leads to another and, an hour later, you realize that your back has never been better. Now that’s what I call therapeutic.
For me, dabbling around our little plots, from one plant to the next, checking each bloom or vegetable out, picking up a tiny stone, weeding relentlessly, watering and watching the little water rainbows, replanting, figuring out the rebellious and prolific self-seeding flowers can be better than meditation. Your focus is so far away from the mundane. Your world has been reduced to several important but very simple coordinates - and you’re in tune with them.
Yes, I want all the fresh organic lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, herbs, zucchini and everything else. We cannot deny the moment of pride and joy serving our garden goods to our families and friends, but the joy of actually being in your garden among your flowers and vegetables is so simple and pure that I feel it makes us better humans.
No, maybe we wouldn’t be able to grow potatoes on Mars like Matt Damon in The Martian if it came down to it, but, according to NASA, we can still all enjoy the “gardening glow” that plants are gifting us with through stress relief and positive sensory stimulation. Apparently, even the dirt under our fingernails can benefit our immune system via friendly bacteria in the soil.
Just walking around the paths admiring (or being envious of) a gorgeous bloom, sensing their fragrance, noticing some luscious tomatoes or ripe strawberries gets us on a higher vibrational level. By the time we leave the garden - we’re just nicer, and friendlier. If nothing else, we should garden for this.
Please send in your own thoughts and musings. Why do you garden?