It’s April and as I walk around the neighborhood, I’m enjoying seeing all the flowers coming up. First there are the daffodils, followed closely behind by the tulips. There is one house that always has a magnificent display of flowers throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons.
The other day as I stopped by the house and gazed for a few minutes, the owner came out and said, “Hello there!” I immediately told her how I always love her floral displays and appreciate how much effort it takes to keep it so gorgeous.
As we chatted, she surprised me by explaining that other than just having some nice colors in the front and back yards, her gardening achieves several goals. Following is short summary from our long conversation.
1) Gardening can build self-esteem – Growing and nurturing anything that turns out beautiful can make us feel good. When my neighbor started gardening over twenty years ago, she was all green thumbs but with a little practice and patience, watching the flowers sprout from the ground gave her an incredible excitement. And when they are in full bloom, she gets a feeling of inner full bloom as well.
2) Gardening is good for your heart – Let’s be honest, when you garden, you have to get down on your hands knees and do a lot of digging to put bulbs and seeds in the ground. Then there’s the regular watering, the weeding, the pruning, the separating, more weeding, and then the cutting to bring some fresh flowers into the house. Yes, it’s a lot of work but it provides some great cardiovascular benefits. You’re outside, you’re getting fresh air, you’re being active, and you’re making something beautiful. It’s all healthy!
3) Gardening reduces stress – Besides the physical benefits, the mental and emotional benefits can’t be overstated. I chuckled when my neighbor told me how gardening does two things for her mental well-being. The first is that it gets her out of her head from dwelling on the annoyances and frustrations of life that sometimes get in her way. Instead of concentrating on the irritations, she’s more focused on getting the garden cleared of weeds before the upcoming downpour. Or she ends up thinking about what’s bothering her and comes to the point as to why she shouldn’t be dwelling on the things that in the end don’t really matter.
4) Gardening can improve your hand, arm, and leg strength – Along with cardiovascular benefits, improving hand and arm strength is imperative, especially as we get older. My neighbor looks to be in her late 70’s and I noticed that she uses several gardening tools very skillfully. Now, I don’t see myself doing a lot of digging with a shovel, but she turned over a great deal of soil, showing me all the worms (her co-coworkers), that she needs to periodically do to keep the soil light and improve drainage.
5) Gardening is good for the whole family – My neighbor was pleasantly surprised at how her gardening activities caught on with her family. All of her children and a few of her grandchildren also now do gardening at their own homes. They sometimes get together to have coffee and cake in their gardens while discussing their favorite flowers and plants. It really has brought the family closer together.
6) Growing your own food can help you eat healthier – Gardening is not just about flowers. My neighbor also plants tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and a variety of herbs. When I’ve walked by her backyard in August and have seen her huge vegetable bounty, I think to myself, “Wow, that’s a lot of healthy produce.”
So, what’s the upshot? I’m going to give my green thumb a try and see if I can bring a few flowers to life.
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Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators, Inc.