Published in the Toronto Star – December 31, 2016
Last month I invited my ‘Facebook’ followers to answer the question, “What does your garden mean to you?” The response was overwhelming with more than 50 people expressing their thoughts. Many were quite personal.
As I review these responses I reflect on the meaning that my gardening experience has to me. Listen.
Some readers responded with reflections on their earliest experiences in the garden:
Linda: “My garden is a tribute to my grandparents. One of my earliest memories is how proud I was when my maternal grandmother allowed me to go into the garden and pick a cucumber. … I remember my grandfather, well into his 80’s, hoeing his garden and telling my Dad to ‘collect all of the cow patties’ to make compost tea. Both my grandparents have been gone more than 30 years but every time I am in the garden I think of them.”
Edna: “My love for gardening began when my godmother gave me a dozen gladiolus bulbs for my 11th birthday ….. our 30 year old garden has changed so many times and it gives us such pleasure.”
Heather: “Over the years I have come to love the recharging effect of working outside in the quiet and enjoy the different elements carefully chosen to remind me of the inspiring gardeners in my life, my Mom and my Grandmothers. It is a labour of love.”
Others opened up and shared some very personal feelings and experiences:
Pam: “My garden means ‘healing’ as I started to really work and create it when my eldest son died. I started a memory garden for him. Each year I planted something that reminded me of him.”
Nancy: “My garden is my lifeline. Even after working all day at my ‘job’ it is so wonderful to come home and be able to spend time in my garden…. getting dirty, birdsong, wildlife, all remind me that I am truly part of this earth.”
Gail: “My garden brings peace and happiness.”
Judy: “My garden is a true sanctuary. It breathes new life into me. I laugh there, cry there, I visit there and the best part is I can share it. As a single mom for many years my garden became cheap therapy for me. It was reliable, always there for me, any time of the day.”
Vicky: “Peace and reflection.”
Cathy: “My garden takes me to a very quiet place, my place. To watch every plant grow amazes me. Nature at its best is all around me.”
Boyer: “The garden is a place where I can commune with the ‘dirt’ and stay in the moment.”
Others talked about food and its connection to gardening:
Linda: “Fresh produce for me and my family, and preserves for later eating: sharing of flowers to those who appreciate the gesture.”
Carrie: “…. My garden, especially my vegetable garden, gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
Parents and grandparents emphasise the connection between gardening and kids:
Tracy: “[my garden] is a way to teach my 3 young daughters about nature and nurture and true beauty.”
Julie: “Any time I am in my garden is the only normal thing in my life!”
I love it when readers talk to me like we are married:
Lesleigh: “Well Mark, I will tell you what I tell my husband when he posed the questions, ‘You spend how much on the garden?’ Flowers make me happy. I actually hated having a garden as a child. Until it came time to turn the cucumbers into pickles….. I actually go home on my lunch break to garden. It resets me. I find weeding therapeutic. But above all, the most meaningful thing about gardening is the traditional values that go with it.”
Louis Armstrong sang it first, “I see trees of green, red roses too”:
Laura: “My garden allows me to believe there is good in this world. I see birds, butterflies, wasps, bees, moths, and hummingbirds all happy! This gives me hope that the world will one day hum and be happy.”
Sharon: “…. My garden is an absolute wonder. Along with a glass of wine [of course], weeding, tilling, wandering and pondering … all a total joy.”
There is something poetic about that…. weeding, tilling, wandering and pondering. Thanks Sharon!
The late Hugh Beaty used to reply to every story with this word, I love it:
And finally, a poem worthy of a new garden season:
Linda Stauth: “The spiders. The weeds. The bird stole my seeds.
My aching sore back.
My pebble-marked knees.
A vine with a choke-hold.
A flowerpot crack.
A kinked garden hose.
Oh! The neighbourhood cat.
But the colours The shapes.
The smells. The sights.
Nothing compares to those flowering delights.
As I sit on my swing and sip my tea.
I laugh and giggle with glee.
Sleep well, my garden, but promise one thing.
You will come back to visit next spring.”
You can follow Mark on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkCullenGardening/.