Why I Garden

Today was one of those days when I realised how important my garden is to me. I bundled up, since our temperatures plummeted yesterday, and sat out in the garden to think. Looking out on all the new growth, I marvelled at the tranquil quality of my garden. It struck me then that I can deal with whatever life throws my way.

Through life’s high moments and low points, my garden continues growing and thriving. It brings me solace, it cheers me when I am most in need of it and gives me the strength and courage to see things through.

When I first began to garden, I did so out of a desire to grow my own herbs and vegetables. I had no idea how much I would grow to love it. Gradually I started growing shrubs and perennials and much to my delight, my garden thrived … it also began taking over the lawn.

When I had to go on sick leave because of ankylosing spondylitis, and then was medically retired, my garden became essential to my healing, especially that of my soul. Through pain and stiffness, there was always something I could do in the garden, even if it was just sitting and reading. I still have trouble dealing with how much of my identity was caught up with my work – as a lawyer. It consumed so much of my time and when it was no longer, I felt its loss deeply. There are times now when I wish I could lose myself in my work – but then, I can turn to the garden, play in the dirt and emerge remembering what really matters in life. In some ways, I am thankful that I did not continue on that road of giving my work so much of me.

When I moved here in 2001, after my marriage had ended, I started a new garden. Even though I live in a harsh, unrelenting climate, I have had the satisfaction of creating something that brings much joy to me and to those around me. And eventually, I have learned to open my heart again. We do the best we can and that is all we can expect from ourselves. There are always lessons to be learned, new plants to be grown and stars to be wished upon.

Yesterday I took some pictures when the sun was shining. The Primula (top picture), is about to bloom in a lovely magenta colour and the Veronica whitleyi (at right) is in full bloom.It is such a deep blue and looks spectacular spreading over the rocks underneath it. I will take more pictures when the weather warms. It is such fun sharing my garden in my blog and enjoying other peoples’ gardens as well … thank you all!

15 thoughts on “Why I Garden

  1. Clare says:

    Kate, I was really moved by your sharing why you garden, and how you said that your garden grows and thrives through life’s highs and lows — and how you can play in the dirt and emerge remembering what really matters in life. I’m a novice gardener, actually, but I really resonate with what you write and how important dirt and plants/flowers are — they really do represent life and allow us to create along with them and be changed by them along the way too. It’s a beautiful relationship. Thank you so much for sharing your story and wisdom!

  2. Ragged Roses says:

    Hi Katewhat a beautiful post. I couldn’t agree with you more about the need to garden. The weather here has been foul the past week and it’s driving me crazy not being able to get into the garden!Kim x

  3. Simon says:

    As I sit on my balcony, whose earth is in pots and imported, I can only wonder at the beautiful way your garden has and is to you, a source of renewal.Beautiful, open post Kate.S

  4. Alyssa says:

    Hi Kate, I too was moved by your post and I came away feeling really quite sad for you. And that feeling has stayed with me all day as I tried to think of something comforting to say to you. Then I remembered an author who’s books have helped me a great deal – and still do. Possibly you’ve heard of him Jon Kabat-Zinn. One particular book deals with helping people who have on- going health and pain problems. It is a meditation practice that is used a great deal and has been very successful. The book is called “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. After looking on a medical site that deals with your type of illness, my heart goes out to you. Life has certainly dealt you some really crummy cards but you seem to be looking for the good things. Hopefully, you will give this book a look-over. I know that mindfullness helps me through some unpleasantness and I’m sure it can only add to your life. All of my best, Alyssa

  5. A wildlife gardener says:

    Thank you for sharing your garden and your hopes and desires with all of us, Kate. I always think that gardens are great healers, very theraputic to our inner being, our souls. I am a retired teacher. It was my vocation and I loved it. I loved all the children and was greatly stimulated by them. But, throughout my time in teaching, many demands and pressures were put upon me, and the more I gave, the more that was expected of me.I don’t know what I would have done without my garden. Digging and sowing and weeding and tending the plants, in all weathers, was much-needed therapy because I worked very hard in, at different times, such a difficult and demanding job. So I can relate to how you feel about your garden and the joy it brings you, for it is the place where you can be creative and happy.

  6. Ingrid says:

    A moving post. I am not a gardener myself, never have been, but I come here for the words that are carefully planted around the flowers.

  7. Kylee says:

    Kate, I can SO relate to what you’ve said, in so many ways, in particular the pain and stiffness. Mine is due to fibromyalgia triggered by a serious bout with bacterial meningitis in ’99. I really feel for you!And that picture of the Veronica … I actually thought that was SKY peeking through! What a lovely shade of blue!

  8. chigiy says:

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in your post. While it is such a miracle that we can communicate from such far away places in just a few seconds, we don’t get to really have face to face time.I’m sorry for your pain and loss and I’m glad that you have your garden.You also have us, your blogging community:)

  9. Megan Pickwell says:

    Kate, What a heartfelt post, thankyou for allowing me to learn more about such you – another layer unfolds. How wonderful to find such joy in the earth.Meganxox

  10. Gotta Garden says:

    Oh Kate…I had no idea. I turned to wikipedia to learn a bit. Oh my. I wish there was something I could do…You are such a bright star in the garden blogging world (probably any blogging world, actually, as evidence by Ingrid’s comment)…you take very good care, okay?While I have nothing to compare, really, I do find my garden of great comfort…it’s where I go to lose a good mad or bad mood. When we returned to this home after renting it out…much to be done that we couldn’t do…and a messy home sale from where we had left…I thought my stress odometer would go off the scale. I begin to purchase a bargain plant here and there and stick them wherever it struck me (you can imagine how spotty and odd it looked!)…I would tell people that a $5 plant was a lot cheaper than therapy ($5…ha! Those were the days…)…of course, now that my yard is full of plants…that is probably not true (laughing)…and what must it say about me??! So, I don’t tell that story (except here!) anymore!Anyway, you say things so beautifully…we can all relate to the need to garden and to the joy it brings. I like that you take time to enjoy your garden, to sit and ponder.

  11. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    Well said Kate, such a wonderful post, I take my hat off to you!Gardening is not only good for the body but also for the soul. Its healing powers are great. I’m glad you found this source of tranquility, joy and healing in your life!Take care!

  12. Kate says:

    I just want everyone who responded to know how much your comments have meant to me. I think I am fortunate to have you all as my blogging friends. It means the world to me!

  13. bindi says:

    Hi Kate, we do take our bodies for granted until they pack up on us don’t we! I admire your strength, and the way you experience joy in life. Your beautiful soul shines through your writing.

  14. Curtis says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Our gardens are more than food on the table and pretty plants around us. They lift us up and we care for them becuase they give us so much.

  15. Janet says:

    I can really relate to what you’re saying here. Now that gardening season is back, I find myself craving the opportunity to go outside and just sit quietly in my “happy place”. Today is too cold and wet, but even so, I steal a minute or too.Regina, eh? I was raised there. My grandmother’s small yard was entirely dedicated to gardening: mainly food crops in the back and a shade garden in the front. A harsh climate yes, but on the other hand, you don’t have to battle earwigs and slugs. ;o) I always cheer quietly to myself when we get a couple of weeks of bone-breaking cold around here. It means a season of fewer pests to battle.

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