Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Power of the Garden

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
~Rachel Carson

Gardens are places of refuge. Of inspiration. Of peace. Where dreams unfold. They are places where tears can be shed in safe privacy. They are places of solitude where one can be swept away to another world through a good book. Where restorative naps can be taken. They are places where one can simply be in the moment, not giving concern to past or future.

Gardeners are a people of hope. We sow the seed or plant the seedling fully expecting it to grow, bloom in some cases and always to thrive. Even those with a black thumb, you’ve met them…their gardens just seem to be more like plant cemeteries…even they surely didn’t expect the plant to die when they planted it or else they would be knowingly wasting their time. We plant with expectations for the garden’s future, our future and the good of its presence to come.

In my work this summer at the nursery I met so many people who came to make their part of the earth a better place; each with different reasons for wanting to garden.

Some came to create gardens of healing for themselves, either physical or emotional recovery. They gardened to keep their eyes on the good things to come, choosing not to focus on their current infirmities. More than one came following surgery, leaning on canes or using walkers, determined to plant, nurture and enjoy just as they’d always done before. Undeterred, even though their physical condition staunchly cried out “no”, still they came because they knew the healing that would take place in their minds, souls and bodies as they spent time in their garden.

Many elderly, now in wheelchairs, came having already spent decades creating gardens. With them came friends or relatives who would be doing the much of the work now, giving them the gift of their time, the benefit of their strength and the outcome of beauty and joy.

Some came to plant memory gardens for loved ones who had passed away. Many came to plant gardens for weddings planned just months ahead and one came to plant a faith garden in preparation for the wedding she prayed would one day take place for her daughter.

I coached people on what to use in bee friendly gardens, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, songbird gardens, container gardens, water gardens, dry gardens, shade gardens, gardens for tranquility, moon gardens, gardens for aromatherapy and gardens for food.

A garden reflects the gardener. That which drives you, is often indicative of the kind of garden you eventually create. Whether it’s the theme of the garden; those who wish to feed hummingbirds or honey bees show their compassionate heart for the creature, or the color scheme you create; colors you are drawn to that gives you away. Do you love the hot colors, those that excite like the reds and oranges of the tropical gardens? Or did your garden end up full of the purples, blues and soft buttery yellows of tranquility like mine did. I didn’t plan it, I’m just drawn to plants with blooms of those colors. They are restful, and today they fill my garden.

Gardens everywhere provide well-being in one way or another, whether by therapy for the soul or nourishing food for the body.

Why do you garden?

In Bloom In My Garden Today: Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop), Alyssum, Cyclamen hederifolium (fall),Daisy(white double,) Daphne caucasica, Echinacea, Eupatorium rugosum ‘chocolate’ (joe pye weed), Fuchsia, Heath (Erica carnea ‘springwood white’), Kirengeshoma palmata, Nepeta, Rose, old English ‘reine des violettes’, Salvia

Author's photo of the Japanese Garden at the Washington Arboretum