By Christina VanGinkel
A friend of my daughter is staying with us for a few days while she is in town. After watching my husband and myself in the garden for quite some time the other evening, she asked me if all of the work we put in to the flowerbeds and other plants is really worth it. I just smiled and responded with a quick yes, that yes it was. Sitting with a cup of tea a few mornings later, I thought a bit more about her simple question and realized just how accurate my quick answer was.
It is worth every minute of planting, weeding, watering, and pruning. From that bit of work come uncountable pleasures. To start, I always have an enjoyable spot to have an early morning or any time of the day cup of tea. If the weather is hot, I can enjoy an icy cold glass of lemonade or Kool-Aid. While doing so, I can watch the resident chipmunk fill his cheeks in a never-ending round of stealing the bird's sunflower seeds. I can also watch as a single pair of small brown birds, defend their house they chose to raise their family in. A pair of starlings would like to steal it from them, and for the last couple of summers the score stands at two to one, with them giving up last year and allowing the starlings to win.
If I am struggling with a line in one of my books, I know I can walk around my garden to clear my head, or go put in some physical time pulling weeds or pruning. Activities such as these are the quickest way to get me through any sort of writer's block that I might be experiencing. The same tasks are also good for clearing my mind of everyday stumbling blocks. It is really difficult to worry about life's mundane little worries when you are breathing in the fresh scent of an overgrown peony!
If I am having a bad morning, taking a walk with my young grandson, and letting him pick a bouquet of flowers for his mother is sure to brighten my mood, no matter how bad it is. Watching my husband chase same grandson out of his walkway edgings is always good for a few smiles too. Small note here: If you have toddlers in your life, do not plant soft, squishy looking plants anywhere that these toddlers might normally walk beside, as the temptation will just be too much, and sooner, rather than later, you will find that they can no longer resist the temptation and they will try to step into these squishy looking plants! My husband has taken to telling him to 'pet' the plants instead of stepping on them, but through it all, it has been fun to watch.
A garden has so much to offer those who care for it. It can be a breathing room for life of sorts. A friend that was going through a divorce once told me that her garden was the one spot that she could always go to and seek refuge, and there was never a critical word from those who resides there. Her ex would never seek her out in her garden either, simply because he found her flowering vines and bushes too smothering. Go figure. She went on to say that even when a plant is not thriving, when it is in obvious need of care beyond what the other plants are calling for, it will not shout at you or demand anything from you.
When your home is almost as calm a place as the garden is, as my own home is, then it works as an extension of that space. It allows you to live your life in more space than the walls of a home. It takes those walls and extends them out into the world.
Yes, the time I spend in my garden is well worth it. I am even sure there must be some statistic somewhere, which says that years are added to a person's life if they garden. I know each day I set among my flowers, breathing in the scent of flowers, watching my husband smile and laugh with my grandson, is a day that is well worth gardening, a day worth living.