Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Nov 10, 2017

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia 'Torch') in my cut-flower patch. The white "blob" in the background is my hoophouse.
Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia ‘Torch’) in my cut-flower patch. The white “blob” in the background is my hoophouse.

I was visiting with a friend the other day when they asked me a challenging question. Why do you garden? My first response, of course, was “out of instinct.” After all, growing plants comes naturally to me.


But that got me to thinking, “Why do I really garden?”


After thinking it over, I determined that several things compel me to garden. The first is stress. I am naturally a high energy person with a huge to-do list each week. Gardening, even if it is only on the weekends, provides a stress-free no pressure environment that gives me a chance to take a deep breath and relax.


The second reason is creativity. When I garden, I am allowed to fully express my personal style as I see fit. There are no limits. I like to think of the garden as my personal canvas. I get to play around with different colors, textures, and shapes to create something truly special to me.

Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.


Gardening is also a very intentional process.


To plant a seed and watch it sprout and grow its first true leaves is very fulfilling. Once it reaches the right size, I get to decide where I want it in the grand scheme of things and plant wherever I want it to stay for the year. Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, but from my experience, it is nice to have a surprise. For instance: a flower self-sows in a place where you never would have planted it,  but the surrounding plants match it perfectly.


I also love the fact that gardens are living things. I know that may seem obvious, but a garden, unlike any other living thing that you can grow or keep, (a) does not require as much time, energy, and money to maintain as a pet (I on average spend $200 a year on my garden and an hour or two a week once it was established), and (b) is constantly evolving and changing with the seasons.


Some would prefer a garden to remain constant throughout the seasons. They like the look of evergreens that stay the same year-round. I respect that opinion, but personally prefer to witness everything from the early spring ephemerals to the brilliant fall color of deciduous trees and shrubs. My garden always keeps me on my toes as to what will happen next, kind of like a well-written book.

The Cottage Garden this fall.
The Cottage Garden this fall.

Lastly, for me, gardening is the gateway to the natural world. While I am out in my garden, I get to see wildlife such as birds, lizards, deer browsing at the edge of the wood line, and the huge assortment of butterflies that call my garden home each summer. When I’m learning about what growing conditions certain plants like, I get acquainted with the various soil types and the minerals and organic matter that influence the composition and PH of my soil.


I know I’ve said this before, but for me, gardening is not just a hobby. It is a lifestyle. It has influenced my life in every aspect, teaching me patience and happiness as I continue living life.


Now that you’ve read what inspires me to garden, I’m curious, what is your reason for gardening? 

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  1. Karen says:

    Why do I garden?
    I love to get my hands in the soil and Smell the earth , and see what that tiny see can do. Amazing!!! It all fills me up to the brim.
    It’s my passion! I can spend hours planting, weeding, smelling,smiling out in the garden, and feel so at peace!
    I’m looking out the window right now and snow is coming down, but spring is on its way, and I’m so ready!

    I’m happy to have found you on the Internet through Margaret Roach. You have an exciting future ahead of you and I will enjoy following your path. Happy gardening!

  2. Sheila Grissett says:

    Congratulations on your new website and for following your passion. I am the granddaughter of farmers and the daughter of parents who “worked outside in the yard” every weekend of my life, it seems. Despite that fertile beginning, I did not come to gardening in my teenage years, but once I established my own home and became pregnant with my first child, I started & could not stop gardening. Most of my children, their spouses & some of their children also garden. I even have a great granddaughter, just three, who follows her daddy about the yard with her own plastic tools. The love of gardening is a seed, once planted, that reproduces over many lifetimes. Blessings to you and your seed-planting. I can’t take the heat and humidity of south Louisiana enough to work outside year-round any longer. My goal now is to finish filling a gardening book with the green things I know and love for my children & their families. Please wish me luck, as I wish you luck in this lovely garden I see pictured here & in all your gardens to come. – Sheila

  3. David Randolph says:

    Why do I garden? Besides being in my blood, I think it is because I use it as a creativity outlet. I see the possibilities of what can be, and then I set about making it reality. It feels me with hope and pleasure to watch me paint the landscape with what I see in my mind. People that don’t garden never understand this. To me gardening is simply how I express my thoughts and feelings.

    • Travis says:

      Definitely! I see gardening as a creative activity as well, and enjoy playing around with various plant combinations in my garden.

  4. Rebecca Davis says:

    Ha! To try to articulate why I garden is no easy task. I, too, am a high energy person and like always having something to do. As all gardeners know, our work never seems to be done but what wonderful work! Tidying up after the winter, getting the soil ready for planting, putting those seeds in the ground and watching how God has created this cycle of life. It’s beautiful. I’ve been pointing out all the seeds here in PA that are sprouting unto the hoop or cold frame to my grandchildren. Watching them eat wintered-over spinach straight from the garden (which they don’t eat otherwise! ) just adds to the satisfaction of growing. I love seeing the results of all my hard work with beautiful flowers and amazing vegetables. I have immersed myself so much into this hobby, that I have become a backyard beekeeper. Another amazing hobby! How about you, Travis, beekeeping in the future to help that garden thrive??

    • Travis says:

      I actually have three beehives on my property right now that a local bee enthusiast manages. At some point I would like to get more hands-on with it, but for now I’m just observing. 🙂

  5. Rebecca davis says:


  6. Bob says:

    Hi Travis and fellow gardeners. Hello from Wisconsin. “Why do I garden” is an great question! My dad grew up poor in a single-parent family during the depression, they kept a big veggie garden to help feed the family–and never stopped. Mom & dad just sold their house last fall at age 90, and except for a few years in the Army and college, dad has kept a garden for 80+ years. I was indoctrinated early. My parents used to drag me and my bros along to nurseries when I was a kid (oh, the agony!). We kept a large veggie garden and fruit trees when I was a kid, and as soon as I settled down I started my own gardens. When I lived in town it was mostly flowers, but for the past 18 years I’ve been lucky to live on an old farm with some acreage and the gardens keep getting bigger every year. Fruit trees and grapes, raspberries, asparagus, rhubarb and a large vegetable plot. We do a lot of canning and freezing, make cider and wine. And store bushels of winter squashes, onions and potatoes in the cellar. We do grow some beds and borders of perennial flowers, grasses and shrubs around the house. But the main outlet for inedible gardening has been clearing and restoring acres of old overgrown pasture to prairie and oak savanna.

    I work a stressful high-tech office job to pay the bills (aka, my “soul-crushing corporate job”). But as soon as I come home I change into grubby work clothes and go outside until dark. I find it deeply satisfying to grow our own food; to just walk into the garden and pick fresh organic produce all summer. And go to the cellar all winter for jars of salsa, applesauce, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, jams…and the occasional bottle of wild black raspberry wine. Amazing stuff!

    Travis, you are lucky to have found your passion and to pursue it so well at a young age. Keep it up! I think you will enjoy the honey bees. They benefit the gardens and you get honey. You also might want to get a few laying hens at some point. They turn weeds, monster cukes and zucchini, rotten tomatoes, etc. into the best-tasting eggs.

  7. Nancy Hallman says:

    Travis, I read about you in Margaret Roach’s blog. It’s going to be so much fun to see pictures of your garden and read what you write! I also love the books of Christopher Lloyd. (It’s one of my greatest regrets that I never got to meet him.) Quite a few years ago Fergus Garrett spoke to our Garden Club about Great Dixter, and he stayed with me while he was in town. I was blown away by his presentation, and by him personally. Quite bravely, I signed up to attend one of his symposiums– because I was a rank beginner. It was an amazing experience. I made lifelong friends while I was there. Maybe someday you would consider going to Great Dixter to work with Fergus and the other wonderful gardeners there. It does sound like you have an amazing garden to keep you busy at home, but anyway, I thought I would mention that. Congratulations to you for all you are accomplishing!


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