why do you garden?

WHY DO YOU GARDEN? I keep asking myself daily as I risk sunstroke to mow and weed and drag hoses round the place. And why do you garden? Some of you have told us, I know, but yesterday when I was in for my third cold shower between rounds, I thought, “Why do I do this?” and figured maybe some of you were wondering exactly the same thing about yourselves.

I garden because I cannot help myself.

I garden because I cannot look out the window and see the shaggy bits any longer, and have to go “fix it” (as if it will ever be “fixed”).

I garden because I do not know what my life would be without plants, truth be told. They speak to me at some level I can’t explain, each one in a slightly different voice.

I garden because it’s the only place (other than on some shrink’s couch, maybe, which would probably be cheaper) that I can be myself, completely and absolutely.

I garden because it’s the only place I don’t feel I have to wear mascara.

I garden because it makes me feel connected. Today, for instance, not long after Shower #3, I finally keyed out a bird who’s been flitting from the big rhodie out back to a pear and a lilac not far apart, a blue-gray and yellow warbler I simply could not ID. Finally, an illustrated guidebook in my filthy, manicure-less hand, it struck me: She is the girlfriend of the American redstart male I saw the other day, the flashy little black, white and orange guy who was in the spruce maybe 15 feet away. They could not look more different.

Actually, as it turns out, she may be one of two girlfriends. Seems the dandy redstart is a playboy (and a land baron, too). The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says he is “occasionally is polygynous, having two mates at the same time.” As if that’s not bold enough, he keeps them in different territories, up to 500 meters apart, unlike other polygynous birds, and waits till female #1 is incubating her egg before he runs off with #2. (I will reserve comment on that behavior, or almost.)

I would never have know this (or counted birds each winter for various citizen science projects) if not for my gardening. Like I said, it makes me feel connected.

I garden because I like Italian-style green beans, the ones called ‘Romano’ or flat-podded, the ones I had for dinner last night.

I garden because when I brush up against the tomato foliage, it smells like…well, you all know that tomato-foliage smell, and the inky green juice the bruised foliage leaves on your trousers and skin.

I garden, as I say, because I cannot help myself. And so out I go again, now, but not before asking: Why do you garden?

CategoriesNature woo woo
  1. linda says:

    It never occurred to me not to garden. I come from a long line of farmers and gardeners. Gardening is as elemental to me as breathing, sleeping, or eating. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t garden. I’ve been playing in the dirt since I could crawl.

  2. I garden because it’s the one place where I am happy (and prefer) to be alone, where there is quiet. I can work through all of life’s problems on my own, in my own time, in peace. It is my therapy, my hobby, and one of my greatest joys.

  3. Seabird says:

    I garden because I love to learn. A good thing since I knew not a single plant when I moved to this acre in Virginia from my .08 acre in Honolulu. Even the grass was different.

    But I learn something every day, with every triumph, every disaster. Life is good.

  4. margaret says:

    Welcome, Seabird. Yes, even the grass is different…but sounds like you are facing he challenge with energy and joy. Thanks for visiting.

  5. Barbara says:

    I garden to quiet my mind, to create something wonderful, to take in and be a part of the world around me. I garden to remind myself of what life is all about: a fragile beginning that with nurture love and patience blossoms into something strong and beautiful that eventually returns to the earth leaving behind seeds and memories that pave the way for even more beauty to follow

  6. Anne at Anne's Cottage Gardens says:

    I used to love to garden because I found it very stress releiving until I had a stroke in March 2007,now I can’t do it,so beleive me do your gardening while you can,it’s so rewarding when everything blooms

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Anne, and thank you for starting 2009 with us. I am hoping that 2009 brings you at least the connection of being out in the garden, if not working in it then just being. I think the sounds and smells and the light of the garden is exceptionally healing; even when I don’t “do anything” I feel better just for staring at it. I hope to see you here soon again, and every good thought meantime.

  7. Anne at Anne's Cottage Gardens says:

    Thank-you for the good thoughts,I hope to be back out there in 2009, I love taking pictures of all of my plants some are so beautiful! and well worth the work,Anne

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Sambodhi Prem. Indeed there is not cycle as complete feeling as growing, picking, cooking, eating. Nurturing the plants that then nurture us. Thank you, and also thank you for sharing the music samples at your site; you know from my comments elsewhere that I love the cello, and these are a very unusual blend of cello and other sounds. Lovely. Come again soon.

  8. Jenny says:

    because I feel most at peace with myself when I am out in my 17×20 foot Baltimore city backyard with my native friends rising above my knees (and some over my head) while I bend down to remove the pesky thistle shoots that threaten to take over like they have in the neglected lot next door. Later, when I’m cleaned up and resting on my back deck, I feel great delight watching the bees, butterflies, and gold finches stopping by my city oasis for visits.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Jenny, from Baltimore….is it snowing there today? You are right, our own bit of the outdoors makes all the difference, bringing peace. Hope to see you soon here again.

  9. chigal says:

    I garden to improve my life. It’s amazing what a cheap packet of seeds and a sunny window can do for your emotional well being. And I feel healthier, now that I eat various fresh herbs almost every day.

    This year, I’m trying to strike a balance between simple potted herbs and the explosion of vegetative overgrowth I’ve created in the past few summers. (A neighbor’s tree came down and I got a little carried away.)

    I get hummingbirds up on my balcony, which was surprising the first year in this new place. I feel responsible for giving them somewhere to stop for a meal, each year.

    1. margaret says:

      Hello, Cigal, and thank you for joining in the conversation. The hummingbirds are something…defying the imagination, really, with their tiny size and high-energy antics. See you again soon.

  10. Jayne says:

    I garden to to create life, beauty, fragrence and bounty. . . The cool soil that sifts between my fingers as I plant a seed evokes so many memories of helping my Daddy as he gardened for our family over fifty years ago. It gives me opportunity to feel the worn oak handle of a hoe in my hand and use the same metal watering can he used when I was a kid. It always continues to amaze me and flood me with pride when my plants produce a fruit that I will care for an nuture. It makes us one with nature.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Jaybe. “It makes us one with nature” is exactly what I think, too. Thanks for saying that. See you soon again, I hope.

  11. Phil Epstein says:

    My family can’t understand why I garden. I hunt, fish, waterski, lift weights,etc. But nothing is more enjoyable to me than gardening. It’s my way of nurturing and growing, both internally and externally. The more care and attention I put into my garden the more it returns to me. That’s why I garden

  12. Jo Hunt says:

    My gardening takes me back to memories of my grandparent’s and an Aunt’s gardens
    that inspire me as did the people. I’m transported to snapping green beans under the shade of a huge Oak tree; or sitting with “Gramp” on the back steps after the satisfaction of harvesting all the fresh veggies. My gardening also awakened my need to nurture, my thirst for information, and my desire to share. Starting this, my first community garden, during a drought has been a challenge; but a great opportunity to expose my grandchildren to the wonder of growing food, including strawberries for Abby and “sun daisies” (sunflowers) for Cassie and the friendships with other gardeners – a blessing. And, not to forget how good everything tastes !!!!!

    1. margaret says:

      Thanks, Jo Hunt. The hand-me-down aspect of gardening, and the memories of our garden teachers, are the best part. See you soon!

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