Monday, March 12, 2012

Top Ten Benefits of Gardening

Posted by MAKMU ta On Monday, March 12, 2012 No comments

1)Magic - Gardening is more than hard work, maintenance and flowers lolling in the breeze.  There are moments every so often when the sunlight is on your face, the soft sound of bees buzzing reaches your ears, and the smell of earth fills your nostrils. Suddenly you open up to another smaller, more wonderful world.  Little moments of magic, I like to call them.  There is something to be said for sitting out on a patio chair early on a May morning drinking your coffee and minding your own business when a hummingbird zips up and stares you right in the face for 30 seconds.

2)Being Present In the Moment - Gardening insists that you be present in the moment, due to the sheer ephemeralness of the pastime. What you notice this very moment well might not be there tomorrow or the next day.  In a broader context though, I find the act of gardening similar to reading in that it focus's the attention down so much that it is hard to be actively gardening while also thinking about x, y, or z.  I tend to be thinking about exactly what I'm doing... and in this day and age that's rare.

3)Hope - No matter what happens out there, I am always hopeful for each and every plant.  That it will survive, get bigger, bloom nicer, quit taking over neighbor plants. I always look at each plant and see in my minds eye its most perfect self.  And, as gardens tend get better with age, I always have hope no matter what the disaster was last season.  I think the reason people like visiting others grand gardens is because it gives us hope of what ours might be someday.  And what's really nice about all this hope: sometimes we do achieve!

4)Passion - Catch someone who gardens in the late February spring fever and you'll see passion along almost fanatical lines.  I almost went to and ordered two more roses at midnight a few days back, even though my 'rose picks' of the year had already been purchased with great thought and care several months before so they'd have the winter to get well established.  Its a mania.

5)Exercise - Gardening uses muscles that most people do not use.  It is a full body isometric sport.

6)Stress Relief - Part of being in the moment (#2) I think, but a very specific benefit on its own: Stress Relief. When in the garden, because of the physicality of the entire process and the utilization of most of your senses... it tends to disrupt the brain from the circular worry/dwelling/task oriented thinking which goes on contantly in the background without our consious noticing.  It is almost hard NOT to stop and smell the roses in the metaphorical sense because your brain is busy listening to the birds and bees, watching the colors and forms, feeling the gritty dirt, and smelling all the smells that are around.

7)Sense of Accomplishment - Many of us use our jobs to get our daily fix of doing something to move forward in the world. Anyone who has ever lost a job knows exactly how much of this sense of accomplishment and achievement we derive from our jobs; they have obvious rewards.  Granted there are tons of things we do every day that provide us with accomplishments, but family chores and house maintenenance don't provide that immediate sense of satisfaction.   Take weeding though.  An hour out weeding and you can see your efforts.  An hour planting a row of azaleas...instant gratification... as well as future rewards as those plants mature and become better than even your first vision of them had been.  Like a botanical pension plan, really.

8)Alone Time. Gardening is something that is generally best done alone.  Though its nice to share the garden, and I love doing so, I spend most of my time in it just being myself, all by myself, in my yuckiest clothes with no makeup on.

9)Creativity/Individuality... yes nearly everyone has a knockout rose or two, but I can tell you my garden doesn't look a thing like anyone elses around here.  And thats not on purpose really, I just do what I think looks good.  I make mistakes in my mind, and I dig them up and move them or donate them to others.  The sum total collective is a huge expression of what I find pretty.  Its why I like visiting other peoples gardens too.  It expands my vision, but also shows me their unique creative side.

10)Acceptance.  Sometimes you cannot win.  Mother Nature is a really tough mama, and she doesn't really make exceptions.  I have learned to accept that some things take time, for instance.  I have learned to accept that I can't have any more sun, less sun, less 90+ degree days than she's going to give me.

{All Photos from my trip last week to Magnolia Plantation}


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