Gardening isn’t just for retired folks or homemakers with huge backyards. Nurturing a seedling through its lifecycle to adulthood is an experience that anyone can stand to benefit from. If you’re afraid that starting a garden might be too much work, think again. The benefits of gardening and spending time in nature don’t have to be complicated or challenging to achieve. A garden can be as straightforward or as complex as you want it to be. If the thought of building a garden on your own doesn’t appeal to you, consider working with others or partnering up as a member of a community garden. Even just taking a nature-walk has real implications for reducing our stress levels, boosting immunity, and improving our mood. Considering the many gifts that nature has to offer, the question becomes, what do you have to lose?
The Virtues That Gardening Offers
Gardening is a beautiful way to get in touch with our creative side. It provides a much-needed opportunity to unplug from technology and set aside other distractions. Not only does gardening put us in charge of decisions on the types of plants and flowers to include, but we also get to decide where and how to arrange them within our landscape. Once we begin to see the fruits of our labor (colorful blooms, fresh vegetables, or eye-catching trees and bushes), the reward of manifesting something from nothing fuels our continued pursuit of this artistic endeavor.
Instant gratification in gardening is tough to come by. Although we can transform a space by adding an array of vibrant, mature plants, it usually takes hard work to get to the end goal, if there even is such a thing. Also, when we feel like our garden is just right, it doesn’t take long before weeds creep in, and flowers begin to shrivel. Gardening involves regular maintenance and must be met with the patience to dedicate time to our craft. Gardening is more of a quiet and steadfast activity, rather than a rushed or hurried one. The slower pace of planting is a steep contrast and welcome change from our otherwise fast-paced world.
The time and effort devoted to gardening makes the ultimate pay-off and reward that much easier to cherish. Seeing those first few flowers pop up and break ground evokes a sense of anticipation for what’s coming next. The evanescent and cyclical nature of plants defines their fleeting beauty as bittersweet and valuable. Gardens are unpredictable, and the results can be hit or miss. If you’ve had the frustrating experience of bunnies, deer, or other creatures getting to your bulbs before they’ve had a chance to grow, you understand the gratitude and relief of seeing a garden come to fruition.
Plants are living creatures. They grow, change, and form bonds with their surroundings. The act of caring for a garden strengthens our connection to the earth and the natural world around us. As we garden, we invest time in nourishing, protecting, and appreciating the plants under our care. By doing so, we build a sense of ownership and pride in our work, along with a deeper bond with Mother Nature.
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to growing a garden. All plants bring added interest and a sense of freshness and renewal to the spaces they occupy. Gardening is always a bit of a learning curve for beginners and old pros alike. Finding out that a particular type of plant won’t flourish without specific conditions (a different amount of shade, watering, soil type, etc.) is all part of the process. Through gardening, we can learn to be gentle with ourselves for uncontrollable elements, focusing on the journey rather than just the final product. From season to season, adjustments must be made to bring us closer to perfecting our dream garden. Gardening encourages us to be flexible and adapt – both of which are useful skills to strengthen and acquire.
Gardening is a process of trial and error. It’s okay to make mistakes
and changes to how we do things along the way. There are lots of simple
steps to get started, even for a complete novice. For the type of
person who does better with hands-on instruction, consider a class or
chat up the owners of a local garden store for help. Lots of people are
passionate about gardening and more than happy to share their knowledge
and advice to a listening ear. Ask for suggestions in finding plants
that are resilient and easy to grow for beginners.
Don’t think you have enough space for a garden? That’s ok! There are many ways to reap the benefits of gardening, even if you don’t have a ton of room. Plant a container garden in your window sill, a mini herb garden in your kitchen, or a potted plant on your doorstep. See if you can help a friend or neighbor with their yard work and landscaping projects. Outsource your gardening by joining a community garden. Community gardens present an excellent opportunity to pursue your new hobby in the company of others who can offer words of wisdom, tools of the trade, and a shared sense of purpose and fulfillment.
The grieving process often requires us to tap into new skills and thought-processes that seem unfamiliar or uncomfortable. It’s wise to take a multifaceted approach to heal our hearts while grieving, giving ourselves every advantage along the way. While there’s no substitute for the benefits of a structured Grief Recovery program, there are day-to-day changes that can help us start to feel better. Furthermore, many of these things don’t cost a dime. Immersing ourselves in nature is one of them. When challenged to venture outside of our comfort zones for healing, the restorative elements of a natural environment can offer us added support and a clearer perspective.
Although it doesn’t have to be big, growing a garden is an investment (of both time and money). Of course, the resulting rewards make the cost worthwhile for those who choose to do it. However, while grieving, it can be challenging to find the energy for our day-to-day routines, nevermind starting something from scratch. If we’re not up for taking on a new activity like gardening, we can still gain many of the same benefits that nature has to give simply by making an effort to appreciate the great outdoors. Spending time breathing in fresh air has been scientifically proven time and time again to enhance our mental and physical well-being.
Exposure to sufficient daylight reduces depression and helps regulate our sleep cycles. While scientists don’t yet understand all of the mechanisms at play, natural greenery has been shown to benefit our respiratory system, neurology, and even help prevent cancer, heart disease, and birth defects. The mystique of the natural world and ancient healing power of plants should not be understated, especially in a society where we spend increasing amounts of time indoors. Regular exposure to the outside world is a worthwhile goal that offers hope and potential to improve our quality of life through any stage or circumstance.