In the Garden:
Lower South
October, 2005
Regional Report

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1916

Ahhh, gardening is not all work. Build yourself a place to unwind and to plan next year's "perfect" garden!

Therapeutic Gardening

We were made to garden. There is something about tending the soil and plants that is so relaxing, so satisfying, and so therapeutic. I just can't imagine not having a garden in which to putter around.

Our idea of a Garden of Eden may be a perfectly clipped formal landscape or a wild "nativescape" or a vegetable patch. Gardening has something for everyone. Even apartment dwellers can get creative with containers and get their gardening therapy.

Choose your idea of a garden and go for it! It's obvious that gardening is pretty decent exercise. It's also a given that fresh homegrown produce is good for you. But it's the mental well-being that appeals to me the most.

Peace of Mind
A study of residents in long-term care facilities in Illinois found that just 1 hour of horticulture activity once a week over a seven-week period resulted in a "significant increase in psychological well-being" compared to the residents not part of any horticulture activity.

Think about it. Just bring a plant indoors and work with it and you'll reap benefits. Other studies have shown that patients who can see nature out their windows heal faster than those whose view is limited to buildings and parking lots. The list goes on.

Gardening is one part of life where you can try and fail, and then easily start all over again. A garden is like an Etch A Sketch. Remember those kid's toys? You just turn them over and shake them to start over with a blank slate. Gardening is like that.

Each year or even each season is a new start. Every garden is in transition. We never finish. Hope is constantly renewed. There is always something new to learn as we keep our minds and souls active through the passing of decades.

Allan Armitage said, "There are many tired gardeners but I've seldom met old gardeners. I know many elderly gardeners but the majority are young at heart. Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized. The one absolute of gardeners is faith. Regardless of how bad past gardens have been, every gardener believes that next year's will be better. It is easy to age when there is nothing to believe in, nothing to hope for; gardeners, however, simply refuse to grow up."

When I get home after a long day's work, I love to head outside to walk through the garden, pull a weed or two, sample a fresh grape tomato, water some plants, or just sit and watch for a while to unwind. Add a glass of iced tea or, if early in the day, a cup of coffee and I'm ready to sit back in a lawn chair and watch the garden do its thing.

Butterflies, hummingbird moths, hummingbirds, syrphid flies, and dragonflies provide the entertainment. The family cat always shows up to stroll through as if to inspect the work site, having never done an honest day's work in his entire life!

Gardening is good for the body, mind, and spirit. I love the fresh-cut flowers, the just-picked vegetables and fruit, and the decorative landscape beds. Most of all I love the therapy a garden provides -- the restorative benefits and the personal satisfaction.


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