My kids think I am a little obsessed. One son finds it "morbid" that I plant flowers on the grave of my late dog Roco and his buddy, Max the cat. My daughter accused me once of "spending her inheritance" as she saw me unloading yet another trunkload of flats of annuals one spring. A non-gardening blogging friend once commented here that he admired my flowers, but they did seem like "a lot of work," implying--in a very tactful way, of course--why do you waste so much time on gardening? Yes, it's hard to explain to non-gardeners just what it is that motivates us to spend so many hours in the hot sun pulling out weeds while fighting off mosquitoes and getting our fingernails permanently caked with dirt. Until a few years ago, I would have been one of these people questioning the sanity of someone braving the cold winds of November just to get a few last tulip bulbs planted. But over the last few years, as I have spent more time in the garden, gardening has become so much more to me than just a way to dress up the outer appearance of my home with a few pretty flowers.
The garden is also a place where I can enjoy Solitude. I am alone with my thoughts, free from the noises of the city or the blare of the television inside. I listen only to the music of the songbirds as they perch above me.
Of course, I am not always alone. But my companions are the kind who make no demands on me but simply enjoy my company.
For many people, the garden is a place to find Solace. My best friend remembers her daughter as she walks through the garden, her spirits uplifted by the appearance of dragonflies and the fluttering of angel wings.
I have been very blessed that my family has not experienced such tragedy, but I understand the healing power of the garden. A small plot with cheery blooms helps me ensure that a faithful companion will not be forgotten.
I can pause in my work to delight in a butterfly flitting from blossom to blossom or the antics of a bee frolicking in pollen.
Even weeding has its benefits. Working in the garden is one of the best Stress-relievers I know. There is nothing quite like hoeing or pulling out nasty weeds to get rid of one's anger or frustrations.
On the other hand, growing vegetables is not as enjoyable to me as growing flowers--it's more like real work. But it gives me a great deal of Satisfaction to harvest what I have sown, not to mention being able to have the freshest vegetables available to serve my family. Crunchy green beans and red, ripe tomatoes from the garden far excel anything you can purchase in the store.
There is satisfaction, too, in seeing flowers blossom from the seeds I have sown. Sometimes the resulting combinations are pure Serendipity.
Spending time in the garden makes one even more aware of the changing of the Seasons. As much as I complain sometimes about the weather, I thoroughly enjoy living in an area where there are four distinct seasons. From the emergence of blossoms and leaves in the Spring . . .
. . . to the Snow-laden branches of winter, I marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature.
Over the last two years, in particular, I have matured as a gardener. No longer dazzled by just the blooms of flowers, I have come to appreciate much more the changing Shape and Structure of the garden. I can see the beauty in yellowing foliage or dried seedheads, or the change over time from this blossom . . .
. . . to this Swirling Shape.
I hope you will check out Mary Ann's gardening contest, and do visit other entries in this week's ABC posts on the letter S.