In the Garden:
Lower South
March, 2004
Regional Report

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A small, well-tended garden can add beauty to the landscape and provide hours of pleasure to the gardener.

We Were Made To Garden

"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth and no culture comparable to that of the garden." -- Thomas Jefferson

There is something about digging into the earth, about planting something and tending it, about harvesting and enjoying the fruit of your labors, that only gardening can provide. We were truly made to be gardeners, and in that pursuit we find pleasure and peace for the mind and soul.

As an extension agent, I see a new group of gardeners each year coming in for advice. Many have never gardened but have felt the desire to give it a try. Others did so as a child with parents or grandparents but then were called away from it by life's many busy tasks. Now, with their own children in hand, they come in nostalgic to start a home garden of their own.

Here's To Our Health
Gardening is good for you in so many ways. It offers so much for our bodies and souls. It is physically strengthening. The chance to work outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine is renewing. Research continues to discover the many health benefits of a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Other studies have confirmed the aesthetic benefits to both physical and emotional health. You may have heard of studies proving that patients who can see nature out their windows heal faster than those whose view is limited to buildings and parking lots.

Beauty
Gardening adds beauty to our lives. Gorgeous landscapes, fresh produce, blooming beds, and cut flowers for the home are a few of the tangible benefits of gardening. Our communities also benefit from landscaping, tree planting, and other beautification projects.

Beyond the Aesthetics
Gardening brings hope. Gardeners are eternal optimists, and each year brings a new start. There are very few areas in life where you can fail miserably and still get a fresh start next time. Each season is a new slate. A garden is never finished and is always getting better!

Gardening allows each of us to build our own small version of Eden. You may love formal landscapes or the rule-free beauty of a cottage garden. You may fancy herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruit, or all of the above. Your space may be expansive or a tiny apartment balcony. Everyone can be a gardener and turn their lot in life into an Eden retreat from the business of work, school, and the other cares of the day.

I really enjoy the simple pleasure of working in the soil. I love the first breaking of the ground for a spring garden as much as the rewards of harvest. I love the soft dark earth beneath my knees as I kneel down to scoop up a handful of soil. Those of you who have gardened for a few seasons know exactly what I am talking about.

Gardens grow kids. Children need time in a garden to experience nature, to learn, and to enjoy the basic pursuits of growing things themselves. They will find a world of wonder and may even be coaxed into eating a little broccoli too!

Here's to the unending list of benefits that gardens provide. Take time this year to step out of the fast lane and spend some time in a garden. Start small and build it slowly over time. It will never be finished, but we don't want it to be. Gardening is a wonderful way to live.


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