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.
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.
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.
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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