Gardening is one of the most effective healing tools I have ever discovered.
It’s interesting in a way that I love to garden, because my father acted like a prison guard regarding gardening. I grew up on a half-acre lot in the San Fernando Valley. My father loved to garden, and he loved having his own unpaid work force (me and my siblings) to work for him. We were required to dig, hoe, weed, mulch and water the garden, but he was the only one who had the priveledge of picking any of the fruit and vegetables. My mother loved to make lemonade, and I would go to the lemon tree and look for fruit on the interior that he might not notice me picking for her. This was done right after school before he came home. For decades I hated Brussels Sprouts because my father would let them grow until they were large and tough, and then my mother would boil them. Blech. It was only a year or so ago I learned about the delicious nuttiness of roasted Brussels Sprouts with garlic.
Other parents take their children to soccer, ballet or karate practice, watch them play little league or their first piano recital. My father would wake us up just after dawn, feed us breakfast, and then put us to work in the garden all day on the weekends. It wasn’t that we needed food and we were saving money; my father owned 5 houses and had two paid-for Mercedes in the driveway. He wanted to garden and he demanded we help him.
I can remember working in the garden in the overwhelming 110-120 degree heat of the valley. I would be so tired and dehydrated but would keep pulling weeds and watering. So I really am surprised that I enjoy gardening to this day.
I’ve heard it said that gardeners are optimists. Who else would put a seed in the cold spring soil, anticipating lush flowers or delicious vegetables? Some small part of me that refused to be destroyed by the other abuse he and my mother inflicted on me found solace in the garden.
I found a certain peace working with the soil and tending the plants. I enjoyed the weeding, enjoyed seeing cleared space and a blank canvas to paint with plants on. Today I can choose what to plant. I plant tomatoes because my husband loves them, and I love to rub my fingers on the leaves to release their scent. That scent kicks me back to some of my happiest days of childhood. I plant flowers for their beauty (we never had flower gardens as a kid, only vegetables) and plants that attract hummingbirds, butterflies and orioles.
I added a small fountain and wind chimes to my garden for sound, and hang Christmas lights and firefly lights amongst the plants. I also have solar tikki torches and a firepit. This garden has helped heal me and helps calm me when I am stressed or my depressive rage kicks in.
What part of gardening do you like best? [contact_form]