Why gardening is part of my self-care

Happy National Gardening Day!

And Earth Day is next week!

Did you know WordPress gives a monthly blog prompt? This month was ‘green,’ yesterday was National Gardening Day and Earth Day is April 22! Nothing says ‘green’ to me more than a garden.

I hated gardening (well, I hated weeding) when I was a kid – it was just another chore. Now that I think about it, though, I was outside A LOT as a kid, just playing and riding bikes and generally making a mess. Now I see gardening as a good reason to be outdoors. Though I also appreciate the time I spend walking the doggos, there is a different satisfaction with gardening. And one of the things I love best about my current house is the three-season porch, which makes me feel kind of outdoors while not getting me eaten alive by bugs (they apparently really like me). This is not as much of a problem when I am moving around more, like with gardening or walking.

There is a satisfaction associated with weeding and planting now, even when you cannot see really significant change (people who do not have gardens do not seem to understand how much better things look when they are weeded/mulched/edged) that is really…satisfying.

Gardening is a journey

I moved last year and the yard is essentially a blank slate, so I am adding trees and shrubs this year with a long term plan of adding a shed and another patio area and a vegetable garden and a butterfly garden and…well, we will see how far I get. I have owned three houses and it took me almost ten years to get my first house’s yard where I wanted it. That one was NOT a blank slate, and I made a lot of mistakes. Now we are 15 years in, and I know a lot more about how to make things work and what I will like.

Gardening is not only about sunshine and picking the right plants for your space, but also about what you want to see in your space. If I ever move to an area with a different climate, I will have to start the learning process over to a certain extent, but for now I am still within two planting zones of where I grew up, and my mom did teach me a lot about gardening, even if I was a reluctant student when I was younger. I also love the idea of contributing positively to the environment, so I like to plant pollinator gardens that help bees, butterflies, and birds out a bit.

Gardening needs to be a long-term proposition – there are a lot of considerations. People have been spending a lot more time, energy, and money on their homes in the last couple years. It helps if you know what you want to be able to do in your yard. I want places to hang out, a BBQ, places for the dogs, and color. I would love a small pool, and have always wanted a firepit, so those may be in the plan as well. And there are some feng shui considerations I like to consider, like missing bagua areas in my house, that you would need to plan for. Oh, and consider toxicity with plants! A lot of surprising things can make your kids or pets sick (like hydrangeas or oleander or lilies) that you need to be careful of!

What would you want in your garden?

Some people want outdoor screening rooms, playsets, extensive veggie gardens or a huge pool. It is important to know what the goal is (as with anything). Once you figure that out, you want to start with the ‘hardscaping.’ This is the patio and deck and planting beds and whatever infrastructure you need to make your yard work for you. I also like to have large rocks and watering systems and trellis, etc. in mind in this plan. It is also important to consider access to the house, parking, etc. in these plans, as well as the impact it might have on things like where rainwater collects, runoff, and erosion.

Next is ‘foundation’ planting – starting with trees and shrubs, then eventually moving on to smaller perennials, annuals, bulbs, etc. The biggest things need to go first, which is why I am planting some trees this year. Make sure you give them enough room! Plants need space to grow. I had a large pine tree fall on my last house (big saga, not fun) so I am sticking with smaller trees that have flowers or interesting foliage.

Most people do not think too much about the view from the inside of the house, but I like to make sure I look out at something lovely whenever possible (and I certainly do not want the view out my bedroom window to be something that looks like a chore – no compost heap or whatever). What are your favorite colors? Scents? What plants would you have in your ‘calm place’ when you are visualizing? What reminds you of good things?

Eventually, you get to experiment a bit more – with color, fruit or veggies, whatever.

For right now, this year, I am planting trees and shrubs with an eye to what it will look like in years to come. I will plant a shade tree and some flowering trees, add some butterfly attracting plants and ones that smell good, and add some solar lights. Whenever I look out at the yard, I want to see something pretty that makes me smile. I will imagine how it will look in years to some and anticipate the enjoyment of all the seasons every year. This is part of my wellness, self-care, and mindfulness journey that others can also see and appreciate.

Happy Earth Day!

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