This 2016 column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
As we wind down the final days of the 2016 gardening season I find myself struggling to find something to say that will seem profound and lasting.
In light of all the political and worldly trauma, the suffering and hunger and homelessness and generally disgusting things that mankind continues to do to one another, talking about the garden seems so trite. And yet, for me (and I suspect many of you), spending time in the garden is what keeps me sane.
From the time I was a small child playing in the dirt and then as an adult working with my hands, pulling weeds, planting flowers, and mowing lawns, gardening has been my escape and therapy not only in times of stress and sorrow but in joy as well.
Growing up in a small town in Southern California, I was the neighborhood yard boy. Every widow on my street just loved me. I would rake their leaves, weed their flowerbeds, mow their lawns and as I got older they would trust me to prune their shrubs and plant their flowers.
It was all magic to me. To come home from school and discover a new flower emerging from a gladiola bulb I had planted two months earlier or the greening of a new lawn I had over-seeded two weeks before was pure nirvana.
At 14 years old I got to work at the local nursery potting roses and tuberous begonias and making moss hanging baskets and cutting annuals out of wooden flats with a masonry trowel, all the time dreaming of how I was going to turn my side yard into a floral paradise or the back patio into a tropical jungle.
I remember when I started my landscaping business in the mid 70’s being dumbfounded that people were willing to pay me to do something that I enjoyed so much I could have done it for free. Gardening has never been “work” for me but instead a source of renewal, an opportunity to be creative and as corny as it may sound, a spiritual experience that has healed my soul over and over again.
It is my sincerest hope that as you move into the New Year you too will discover the magic of gardening just as I have.
It is an activity that is both physically and spiritually restoring. It fosters our nurturing instinct and brings out the best in us. It provides food not only for our bodies but our souls as well and the more time we can spend communing with our gardens the better this world could be.
Gardeners by nature are optimistic and positive thinking. They are generous and always eager to share their bounty. The beauty they create makes the world a happier place to be and observing the miracle of growth in the garden is such a powerful experience that it is nearly impossible to be in a bad mood while you are gardening.
I am not sure if it is the gardener that makes a garden so lovely or if it is the garden that makes the gardener so lovely. I suspect it is the ebb and flow between the two that creates the magic. And that magic (think Love), it’s what makes a garden a garden.
Here’s to all of us sowing and reaping lots of love in our gardens this next year.
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