Katie's Gardening Blog

Flower gardening is a hobby that provides a lifetime of satisfaction. It affords the gardener a close connection to nature and to the elements. It nurtures wonder and appreciation for beauty and reminds us that plants, like people, persevere and flourish despite setbacks. Tending to flowers helps us mark the seasons of the year, as well as the seasons of our lives.

When my grandmother was young she learned to care for roses, flowering bushes, and perennial borders from her mother. Later, Grandma taught my mother and me the joy of keeping gardens and flowerbeds. To garden links us with past generations and with friends who hold the same fascination with nature and beauty.

Think of how often we remember loved ones and friends when we see plants that were gifted to us or dug up along the roadside with a friend. Flower gardening is an activity that keeps us socially connected. Who hasn’t been invited to a fellow gardener’s home to watch their evening primrose slowly unfurl at sundown or stopped by a friend’s garden to see how beautifully the lilacs are blooming in April? Long after we are unable to get on our hands and knees in our own gardens we can take rides around the neighborhood to enjoy others’ gardens.

When we are young we can lay bricks as borders, move heavy rocks, dig, and plant all day long. As we age we become increasingly aware that we cannot maintain that speed and vigor. One way to deal with this normal physical change is to invite a child to help with the easy tasks or to hire a teenager to deal with the heavy work. In this way we can get our work done as we share our love of flower gardening with the young. Hopefully these young folks will develop a love of hard work and the satisfaction of enjoying a well-tended garden.

Another way to cope with the possible loss of energy and mobility as we age is to adopt a new way of approaching and appreciating our flower beds. When we survey our gardens in the early spring and they look like too much to manage we can ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “one bite at a time.” We can take a more cerebral approach.

Instead of tearing into projects as we once did when young, we can plan. A plan which breaks garden tasks into smaller projects will make the garden seem easier to manage. Gentle stretching before attacking a patch of weeds can warm up our bodies so the likelihood of strain is lessened. Maybe we can let our flower gardens emerge into more naturalized spaces where weeding is not a high priority. By simply managing expectations we can enjoy our gardens as we age.

A significant benefit of flower gardening is meditative or spiritual in nature. Taking time to be in the garden early in the morning or in the evening allows us to be alone with nature. Birds, butterflies and small animals enhance our experience. A beautiful flower garden can become the backdrop for our prayers or musings. It can take us back to early memories and help us connect with those who have gone before. Flower gardens are a reminder of times and people we have loved but also represent hope and eagerness for the future. Might tending a flower garden be a formula to help you remain fit and get more out of life?

 

Bob Moats