‘why do you garden?’ nears 100 comments

martagon2ANOTHER POST IS NEAR THE CENTURY MARK, our second in 7 months here on A Way to Garden. The first was Garden No-No’s; now here comes ‘Why Do You Garden?’ to challenge its lead. Why do you garden? Is it for astonishing plants like these Martagon lilies, or for solace in troubled times, or for fresh food to stash in the freezer to get you through a long winter’s nap? All good reasons, but perhaps they are not yours. So what is it? Won’t you tell us?

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  1. erin bailey says:

    I garden because the warmth of the sun, the cool touch of a breeze remind me that there is love and hope for the most dark and depressing situations. I garden to create beauty that my soul craves. I garden because I can. I garden because I can’t not garden.

  2. Perennia says:

    Gardening is time to spend outside, surrounded by beauty. I believe the green thumb runs in my family. My mother and grandmother. I always had knowledge of plants growing up because I was surrounded by them, I believe it’s just in my genes to want to be in the garden!

  3. Stacy says:

    It’s against my religion to have bare dirt, always has been. Even when I was fresh out of college and had no dirt (3rd floor apartment), the balcony was full of potted plants. For me, it’s therapy. It calms me and keeps my mind distracted from the stress of life.

  4. Barb says:

    Hi Margaret,

    I have been gardening since I was a child. I grew up in Connecticut and my parents had a huge garden. We had three high blue berry bushes then the garden started with two rhubarb plants, two rows of the old fashioned ruffled gladiolas, then rows of tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, cucumbers, musk melon, watermelon, and corn, giant sunflowers, zinnias, eggplant. There was also morning glories planted on a beautiful trellis, and then more beautiful flowers my Mom planted. Every year the harvest of food we had was such a plethra and we had such an abundance we shared with others. I learned so much from an early age from both my parents. Where we lived we were surrounded by huge tall pine trees…..it was just a magical place to live. Plus learning how to can for the winter to. Gathering pine cones to make a wreath with. I could just go on forever.
    I was just blessed to carry on the tradition and its so exciting to plant and watch everything grow and then being able to share with others. To see the smiles a bouquet of fresh picked flowers brings to others or seeing the smiles on peoples faces when they see your giant sunflowers and the happiness it gives them. To share your harvest with others. I never met a flower or plant I did not like!
    Thanks for allowing me to share. Blessings to you Margaret…………Barb

    1. margaret says:

      Thanks, Barb, for the great story you shared. “Magical,” as you say — the perfect word for the garden. Hope to see you soon again.

  5. Rick Eastlund says:

    I grew up in the Spokane Wa. valley area. We gardened for food, and I am sure as a way to teach some disipline to 4 preteens. I always loved planting and watching the new plants push up through the soil, as well as the fruits and veggies we harvested. The neighbors had some laughs sending us out to plant potatoes by the dark of the moon, and picking tomato worms by flashlight at midnight. Now our son is gardening also. Will upload some pictures when I catch up with the weeds.

  6. Ellen Peavey says:

    Gardening is a way to watch something grow from a seed that can feed your family, it always amazes me. I can take a plastic cup put holes in the bottom and add potting soil put in the seed and water, all of this done in March and inside watch it grow. All I have to do is find a sunny location and put the tray of seedlings in the sun. Every year staring in January the seed catalogs are taken out for the ordering and anticipation of the seeds popping up and out of the plastic cups. I had three huge sheet pans full of plastic cups and seedlings this year. I think this will be our best garden ever,love working in the garden every year. Ellen from Georgia

  7. Wendy says:

    Besides being obsessed with gardening and ditto to all of the other post’s reasons, I am an artist and have this need to define space, gardening allows me to create, using plants as a visual medium. The possibilities are endless of course and it just excites me to watch what happens in nature with a little help from my placements and design. I find the appearance of plants with their leaf shapes, stems, patterns and their many other aspects add a compelling and pleasing graphic element to the environment. I also love growing my own food and herbs . . . and finally it is a very Zen process.

    1. margaret says:

      Very Zen indeed, Wendy. Nice of you to share your reasons (and I hear you about the patterns of nature — quite amazing, and endlessly fascinating to me, too). Hope to see you again soon,

  8. I started gardening in earnest when my husband and I bought our first little house. It was then that I realized that owning a piece of land was paramount to wanting to ‘decorate’ it. This led to becoming a landscape designer over 30 years ago after being busy with Teaching Art, Photography and Fiber Art. When I got my training I realized that 80 % of my slides were of landscapes and I used to dream of doing something with the earth as I would take extended driving trips and be enchanted with the roadside tangles of natives plants. It was amazing how all those life experiences came together. I now have a 20 year old 2 acre woodland garden in Apex, NC largely comprised of the varying greens and textures of the many native and ornamental plants. I still get a thrill out of freshly dug spring dirt. The urge to get my hands dirty all times of he year is still a strong one. I will be visiting Hudson, NY for a wedding September 8th. just 2 weeks away! My Nephew who is getting married told me about you and that you may know of a garden or two in Hudson that I might be able to visit on Sunday Morning of that same weekend before my plane leaves. I will be seeing the OMI Sculpture Fields Gardens. But, any further suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Suzanne

  9. Ellen Peavey says:

    Thanks Margaret the garden is still producing and we are still canning and freezing. In the two years we have been here it is really the best garden, don’t know how we are going to out do our selves next year. We have planted a small fall garden broccoli, squash, green beans and spinach. Ellen from Georgia

  10. mike burch says:

    I have been involved with plants since 1972,and even before that as a kid.I have always been amazed at the complexities of gardening,not to mention the miracle of growth..I used to have my own nursery in Gadsden,Alabama…seems like 100 years ago…there is nothing to compare to the satisfaction of seeing a full crop of plants come to maturity and ready for sale(or even if they do not sell)…I was in the landscaping business as well in Alabama,and Florida…what a delight in improving the surroundings of a customer’s house…Now..i am retired…on disability(kidney failure,diabetes,and sarcoidosis)..gardening has saved my life…by giving me something to look forward to do.I have a small vegetable garden in my back yard..and it does keep me busy here in Ocala,Florida…It does wonders for my health..keeps me busy…and gives us wonderful veggies to eat and share with our elderly neighbors.It is such a pleasure to see the look of delight on our neighbor’s faces when we are able to give them fresh tomatoes,peppers,squash,cabbages,collards..lettuce…thank you ,Margaret..for your blog..and allowing me the pleasure of being on your e-mail list….happy gardening…oh yeah…MERRY CHRISTMAS,AND HAPPY NEW YEAR…mike burch

    1. margaret says:

      Thanks for saying hello today, Mike, and sharing your story. I agree: gardening keeps me going, too. Merry, happy to you to, and here’s to a great season ahead!

  11. Fran hamburg says:

    I grew up in the. Bronx without much green around, but vividly remember summers in he Catskills where the smell of Pine trees after a summer rain stayed with me and led me many years later to a piece of land in the Berkshires where I have gardened happily for over thirty years.
    Gardening brings me back to myself and to a connection with something beyond my own concerns .
    I can’t imagine a life without it!
    And while I don’t jump out of bed at 7am to poke around the way I used to , I am still out there every day, weeding, watering and dreaming.

    Thank you Margaret for your wonderful words and inspiration!

  12. Judy Kelley says:

    When I owned my first little house after college and planted a pot of yellow marigolds on the back steps, I knew I was in it for life. I come by gardening naturally from my grandmother who grew flowers & veggies on an Illinois farm. My grandad took my sister and I, city kids, out to the garden and dug up potatoes and we were amazed. I’m drawn to the garden as a place to be creative, enjoy the birds ( I love hummers!) and get out of my own way for a while. And just breathe! Judy

  13. When I was 12 my parents moved our family from inner city Houston to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere on six acres. We had every animal you can think of, and of course a garden. I loved working with my parents and growing food. One year we had so many potatoes I remember storing them under our beds on sheets of newspaper. We picked wild blackberries in the ditches on the sides of the railroad tracks and mom made cobbler. I have always had fond memories of those years and longed to grow something to eat. I tried many times only to not stick with it long enough. I am a mom of six and have been busy over the years with their activities. I put off gardening but always wanted to do it. This past year I finally did it and have successfully gardened for a whole year! I love it! I have grown tomatoes, okra, broccoli, kale, swiss chard, spinach, peas, peppers, beans, strawberries, berries, oranges, onions and lots of herbs. There is always something new in my garden and it so freely gives. I feel closer to God and I love being able to feed my family and others with the most healthy food on earth. The power of greens! Planting from seeds is the best too, as a seedling struggles and breaks through I love to watch the miracle of growth begin.

  14. Kathy says:

    The “seeds” were planted when I watched my Grandma in her sun hat weeding her rock garden. I was about five years old . I can’ t ever remember not being involved with gardening. Best of all are the friends you make who share your passion.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  15. Constance says:

    I just can’t seem to ‘not garden.’ I have been told by older relatives, “It’s in your English blood.” I really cannot pass by a garden center or not read a gardening blog. I am actually in love with garden catalogues. My newest thing is getting my really poor soil into shape. It is heavy wet, or very dry clay. We have made some amendments and are using compost more. I can actually stare at my garden for the longest time, and just appreciate what we can do to, even in small spaces. When we take drives, I’m not interested in the homes, but what the plantings look like.

  16. JoAnn says:

    Someone else said that it bring her closer to God. That is what my husband says.
    I remember my grandparent gardening in their small plots in Brooklyn, New York and Pa. My father gardened in our row home backyard in Queens, New York. I married a man who had the same history and so we love to garden. At this point, I really like supplying some of my own food, giving to my family and knowing how iit was grown.
    My one daughter is married and she and her husband garden in their little plot in Philadelphia and community garden plot. And it continues…You can’t be unhappy when you are in the garden. Be Blessed.

  17. gaby.s says:

    I recently heard a chef being interviewed and asked when he decided that he wanted to be a chef. He replied that he couldn’t remember, but when he was 7 years old he was given some Action Men (G.I. Joe?) toys and some plasticine for christmas, and he sat the Action Men down around a table and made them little plates of plasticine food… I feel that way about gardening – it is just what you do, like breathing, and it keeps me sane – hopefully. Like Constance, I can just stare and stare at my garden, perhaps there should be a support group for People who stare at plants? And thanks for your website – inspirational.

  18. Judy Walther says:

    Hi Margaret,
    I just finished reading your book and absolutely loved it so decided to check out your website. I also garden because I cannot help myself. Right now my guest bathroom is loaded with seedlings and plant lights hanging from the shower rod. I just relocated back to Georgia and am starting a new garden…hopefully the last!

    1. margaret says:

      Thanks, Judy. How nice of you to come say hello! So funny about the bathroom seedlings — I just put a tray of them in there today myself.

  19. Betsy says:

    Oh, there are so many reasons I garden and many are already expressed in the comments previous. I received a card once from a grateful friend for a basket full of beets. It had the phrase “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
    Like many, I garden because my mother taught me to. She gave me many plants when I moved from Wisconsin. Cardinals were her favorite bird and they always filled our yard there. In nearly 17 years of living in the city of Schenectady, I had never seen one in my backyard, until the day I came home after her funeral. And it stayed for what seemed like ever, flitting between a red-twig dogwood and then to an Adirondack chair. We were in the process of moving 3 miles away to a suburb with much more space to garden. Grief took hold of me many times in the months after my mom’s death. But if never failed that if I could go outside, a cardinal would be startled out of a bush, or swoop close by.

  20. Vicki Brown says:

    I live in Nova Scotia where our weather is so unpredictable that when it’s time to garden I take up the challenge. For years I’ve gardened and cannot fully express the joy that digging, growing worms, planting, planning gardens, pruning, and watching my plants and vegetables grow even in foggy soggy weather at times…composting and mixing it in gives me the same feeling as hanging clothes on a clothesline! Awesome…btw, just read your book and found you here Margaret, thanks, you are most inspirational and informative…Vicki

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Vicki, and how nice that the book led you here! Very sweet of you to say hello, just in time to start the new garden season together.

  21. Pat Meadows says:

    Hi Margaret, There are many reasons why I garden. Here are the most important ones:
    1. I feel that it’s incumbent on anyone who can do so, to add to the world food supply while there are so many people who hunger and die because of insufficient food. Gardening is very far from sufficient to decrease hunger (largely caused by economic injustice), but it’s a start. I only grow edibles now partly because of this, but fortunately there many lovely edible flowers, and many veggies and salad stuffs are decorative.
    2. Gardening – and eating the results – is easy on the environment, eliminating many ‘food miles’.
    3. PLANT LUST! I just *want* to grow any number of plants, especially odd or oddly colored vegetables and salad stuffs. I want to see how they grow, to become friends with them. :)
    4. To have good fresh vegetables to eat.

  22. Adella says:

    I’ve gardened for 44 years and simply cannot stop! Sometimes I try to “hold back” when the inspiration hits me to create a new bed, and to buy more plants. But I would much rather tend vegetables and flowers than to mow a lawn. How surprised I am to learn of others who enjoy just gazing at our gardens! I often do that and it seems almost like meditating. It’s relaxing and rejuvenating.

  23. Kaitlyn McMillin says:

    – Cost friendly
    – More nutrition
    – More convenient
    – Hobby
    – Fun or rewarding
    – More profitable

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