Why Garden?


I stumbled across this article a while back, it touched me so deeply that I saved it. This morning, as I was so called organizing my collection of gardening resources I found myself reading it again and wanted to share it with my fellow gardeners. I hope you like it.



Why Garden?

By Paul McKenzie, special to HGTV.com

Most people separate work and play into separate boxes--eight-to-five in the cubicle, weekday evenings watching sitcoms or carting the kids to ballet rehearsal, and weekends of golf or waterskiing.
Not so the gardener. Digging holes and pulling weeds could hardly be called recreation. But gardening doesn't fit so neatly into the work box either. Although at day's end you're left with sore muscles and more weeds to pull, you also find that your soul has been nourished and your spirit rejuvenated.
Gardening is the most popular hobby, but the term seems pitifully inadequate. What term could be applied to a pursuit that takes so much of you and yet gives so much back? Gardening is an avocation, a passion, a calling. It's getting out of the car after a long day and a longer commute, feet sore, brain frazzled, body drained, and finding you can't wait to drag hose, tend tomatoes and transplant zinnias.
In the hierarchy of all things important, gardening is very near the top.
It's important because you pass along the awe to the youngsters in your life. Together you plant radish and carrot seeds and you get as excited as they do when the seedlings poke out of the ground--not to mention that kids who grow radishes and carrots are more likely to eat them.
Gardening, they say, keeps you young, although I haven't seen any scientific data on the subject. Staying young is important to me and I'm guessing gardening is less painful than some of the Beverly Hills methods (though perhaps nearly as costly). I've known a fair number of elder gardeners and noticed in them a certain nimbleness of step, a bit less stiffness in knee and hip. The elder gardener may pull fewer weeds and find their shrubbery has swallowed large chunks of yard, but they walk through the garden with a grace that only a lifetime among bees and butterflies can give.
Gardening is important for the economy since only a gardener would spend $75 on a single hosta or daylily, and to do so with no regrets. Only a gardener would spend winter evenings reading plant descriptions in garden catalogs, believing every word.
It’s important because it teaches you humility when the $75 hosta is devoured by voles (a small vegetarian rodent with expensive tastes), or the prized rose bush decimated by Japanese beetles. It also teaches the joy of nurturing, the delightful responsibility of caring for a seedling that depends on you for light, water, life.
It gives you an excuse to wear silly hats that keep the sun off your neck and hang out with other gardeners who will covet your silly hats.
It's important because when your gardening days are finally done, some young couple will come along and rediscover your long-neglected garden. As they are cutting back the overgrown shrubbery they will encounter some fragrant treasure that you sowed so many years ago. That treasure will spark in them something that they will pass along to their own children.
In a world where conflict and strife seem to surround us, gardeners create a space where peace and beauty reign. In a time of rampant selfishness, gardeners set the example of selflessness. For it's impossible to garden only for yourself. The colors and textures you splash upon the ground are soaked up by all the birds, butterflies and passersby in your neighborhood.
But mostly, it's important to be a good steward of a small patch of earth and to know that you are one among millions who are helping to heal a wounded planet, one garden at a time.
--Paul McKenzie is a horticulture extension agent in Durham, North Carolina and manages the Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program.

Comments

Wonderful article! Thank you so much for reposting it for us. The young and old aspects was of particular interest since I've been focused on those aspects of gardening this week.

My blog today is about the young gardeners and farmers at our agricultural fair. Next week, I'll be running an article about an 89 year old gardener that I met. His family is sending me his background info. He grew over 90% of the plants used in his display and his granddaughter's display (both winners) at the flower & garden section. Cameron
tina said…
Yes, so very true for us gardeners to create our space of perfection-sore muscles and all. Paul's article sums it up nicely. Thanks for sharing it!
Shibaguyz said…
Thanks for sharing this article. It really hits the nail on the head.
Kerri said…
I love this article! Thanks so much for sharing it.
I particularly like the way he points out the 'passing along' aspect of gardening. I find my little grandsons seem to especially love gathering wildflowers, and they notice all the little creatures in the garden too. We'll have to plant some vegetables with them next spring!
I could've sworn I left a comment on the 'morning walk' post, but I don't see it there. Maybe I had a senior moment and forgot to leave one :)
Machelle said…
"It's important because when your gardening days are finally done, some young couple will come along and rediscover your long-neglected garden. As they are cutting back the overgrown shrubbery they will encounter some fragrant treasure that you sowed so many years ago. That treasure will spark in them something that they will pass along to their own children."

I especially like this paragraph. When we moved to our home almost twenty years ago, I found old fashioned Petunias that came back every year for many years. I also discovered Garden Phlox that still bloom faithfully. The older couple that lived and raised their family here have long since passed, but each summer when the flowers bloom, perfuming the garden with their sweet aroma, I still think of them.
GardenJoy4Me said…
Machelle .. First thank you for stopping by my blog girl !
I just read this and I too am very touched by it .. it is so true for all of us .. it is amazing to think that so many people all over the world have this common thread binding us .. we are gardeners .. no matter what our skill level we are connected by this love of the earth.
Wonderful site you have here girl !
Joy
Jamie and Randy said…
Machelle, what a wonderful article. I hope one day when I'm older a younger couple will rejuvinate my garden.-Randy

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