In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
October, 2005
Regional Report

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The fragrance of lilies lifts the spirits.

Gardening Feeds the Body and Soul

To me, gardening is one of life's purest pleasures. It's a delight to all the senses -- sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. And gardening's good for you. Besides being good exercise, it soothes the soul. And that has its own benefits.

Nurturing plants and watching them grow brings a sense of accomplishment and gives us something to look forward to every day. Tending a garden shifts your viewpoint outwards and puts you in touch with the rhythms of the earth. It's a tonic in our worrisome, time-pressured world.

When asked why they garden, many people respond that they find it an escape from the stresses of work, family pressure, and the pace of daily activities. Although stress is subjective (my stress could be your exhilaration) and varies in degree, one thing is certain: Our health is closely related to how well we cope with daily events. I'm convinced that the increase in home gardening is in direct proportion to the amount of stress in our lives.

Immerse Yourself
The garden allows us to indulge our senses, and sensory stimulation is vital to healthy human functioning. In fact, the sensory element is fundamental to the garden's appeal -- getting your hands in the soil, feeling the surprisingly velvety petal of a poppy or the roughness of tree bark; inhaling the sweet scent of jasmine; tasting a fresh-picked tomato; hearing the rustle of grasses and the chirps of arguing robins; and seeing the infinite range of colors in the heart of a tree peony.

Exercise Your Creativity
Beyond the physical benefits, the garden offers unlimited creative possibilities and the chance to stimulate that sixth sense: the intellectual sense; there's always something to learn, and with every lesson comes a greater understanding of nature's ways, a deeper sense of satisfaction, and often a healthier garden (and gardener). We know now that maintaining good levels of physical and mental activity helps to ward off disease. And it is completely gratifying to nurture, to tend something that responds so readily to our care. Who can fail to marvel at the ability of a tiny seed to sprout and grow and present us with lustrous blooms, tasty salad fixings, or a canopy of shade?

Harvest Nature's Bounty
Gardens also can give us a sense of control, an important asset when we feel there are so many things in the world beyond our control. We are not going to be able to control nature, but at least in our gardens we can exercise some choice, deciding what to grow where, and when. As we realize that our health is closely bound up with the planet's health, we understand that in restoring the earth in our gardens, we also restore ourselves.


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