Thursday, January 12, 2006

Gardening is a Way of Life

By Christina VanGinkel

Gardening is more than just digging in the dirt, planting seeds and seedlings, and harvesting what grows. It can flow into other parts of your life before you even realize it. I should make a disclaimer here that I am a gardener at heart, but not always that successful. I love the idea of gardening, I love planting things, I do not even mind pulling weeds, but I do things like pulling plants when I am pulling weeds, especially in the spring when life is first erupting in the beds. I often water plants that should not be watered, and plant things needing sun in the shade and vice versa. I am getting better though, with a lot of help and instruction from my husband, the true gardener in the family. Even with all of these downfalls, I love gardening.

I find myself in the dead of winter searching for items that remind me of the garden in full bloom. From kitchen curtains that are decorated with embroidered Thyme, Chives, Basil, and Rosemary, to the papers I choose for my scrapbook layouts, plants, both decorative and fruit and vegetable, keep cropping up in my life.

Maybe it is the mother in me, looking for things that represent life I am not sure, but the theme of gardening itself is something that I seem drawn towards. Take for example a recent shopping trip where I needed to replace some of our bathroom towels. While towels in bright colors and earth tones alike surrounded me, I kept looking for something that I was not sure existed. Then I found them, a set of bathroom towels with a border of a flower garden in full bloom. I would have settled for any of the other towels had I not found those, but the minute I saw them, there was no question in my mind which ones I would buy.

Scrapbook paper that is handcrafted with flower petals, seeds, and even paper and cardstock that are printed with garden themes, embellishments of miniature watering cans, hoes, packs of seeds, and shovels always find their way to my scrap room. Not sure exactly which layouts they will end up in; nevertheless, they all come home with me.

Maybe it is just a longing for growth when all around me is white snow, but I am mature enough to recognize and acknowledge that even last summer when our own garden was overflowing with moss roses, and Asian lilies, bleeding hearts, and flowers in every hue in the rainbow and in between, I was already searching out garden items.

Gardening can become a way of life in many ways. Walking through a craft show last summer, I had to stop at every booth that had anything that might be construed garden related in some small way. Handcrafted Thank You cards with a stamped daisy, old watering cans with decorative tole painting, a small bench that had a white picket fence for its back with flowers entwined up between the slats of the pickets. Each called to me with the song of gardening in its name, and I wanted it. Of course, I did not buy all of them, but I would rush home and make a note in my journal about what I saw, and if I though it could somehow be fit into our garden sometime in the future. My father-in-law made me a little house of wood, varnished, painted with butterflies and flowers, to be used in the garden for a place to store my hand shovel and rake, and my daughter bought me a small toad house resembling a tiny cottage with a grumpy old man standing next to it. Before I gardened, I would have looked at both of these gifts and wondered what they were thinking. As it was, they have been two of my favorite gifts I have ever received.

Having a love of gardening means much more than just digging, planting, and harvesting. It truly is a way of life. If you are looking for something that has the potential to add dimension to your days, your life, take up gardening and you will never go another day without something interesting to dream about.

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