More Than Plants Grow in a Garden

Cherie - Grand Rapids, Michigan
Entered on March 22, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in gardening. When you grow up on a small family farm and spend your summers picking tomatoes while your friends go to Disneyland, adulthood takes one of two paths. Either you embrace the lifestyle, marry the boy from the farm next door and follow in your parents’ footsteps or you vow to live your life surrounded by concrete and tall buildings. Although I ultimately settled in a small city, I definitely left the farm life behind.

In my twenties and thirties, life was too full of career and friends and travel and fun to consider anything as sedate as gardening, even if there had been a tug on my green thumb.

When my husband and I bought our current home, it was the first really decent yard we’d had – yards not having been a priority for us. Perhaps as a function of age, or something more primal, I found myself beginning to dabble in gardening. To my surprise, I liked it. As the years have passed, I’ve become almost passionate about an activity that I once saw as drudgery. I have also begun to realize that gardening has had a profound effect on me as a person.

Two of my rather strong personality traits are impatience and the need to control the events in my everyday life. Neither of these are traits my garden will allow me. Sprouting and blooming are at the behest of a voice more organic than mine. I have learned to relax, just a little, and accept the fact that my peonies could care less that I have a big brunch planned and want, oh so much, to have them at their peak when my guests arrive. I have learned to bow to the strength and stubbornness of my woody primrose who refuse to stay contained in the space I have designated for them. And my asters . . . . if only they would stop growing before they get taller than the anemones behind them. No such luck.

The most profound shift has been the evolution of my appreciation for fleeting beauty, be it visual, emotional or what have you. In my pregardening days, I wouldn’t have exerted what I saw as an inordinate amount of effort on things whose value to me was short lived. I no longer feel that way. Actually, I think I feel more intensely about the fragile and temporary because my garden often gives me just a brief time to relish its offerings.

All of these gardening lessons have changed the way I look at a lot of things in my life. As much as I strive to make my garden grow, my garden has made me grow far more. My garden has made me a better person.