I was recently asked to share a little more about what Garden Therapy means to me. Virginia at http://www.container-gardening-made-easy.com/ interviewed me to feature on her blog and as I answered the questions I thought I should post those answers here as well, to share a bit more about myself. The first question asked me to explain how I use gardening as a healing tool.
The first thing that came to mind was my first gardening day of 2010, this past Saturday, when it was beautifully warm and sunny. I popped out of bed, put on my grubby clothes and scrub boots, and headed out to clean up the garden a bit. I dug through the brown foliage from last year’s beauties and was delighted to find new growth peeking out from below the spent plants. As I worked my neighbours waved and teased me for doing a spring cleaning in January while other people stopped by with their dogs to tell me how they loved to walk past my garden month after month. Not a flower was blooming, and most of what I was working on was mucky and dead, but for me the therapy from gardening is the activity not the results.
I started gardening to relieve the monotony of my days being forced to “rest” and “give my body a chance to heal”. But it proved to be exercise for my mind and body that is allows any pace I can muster. The mental exercise of figuring out the many biological factors that must be determined to successfully grow a plant provides as much diversity as the physical challenges hold. The benefit along the way is a stronger mind, a lighter spirit, and a better heart rate.
Gardening on that sunny, spring-like day had all the elements of what I need to heal myself: connection with the earth and people, nurturing new growth, laughs with friends and neighbours, physical challenges, and of course the warm sun shining on my skin. I don’t believe that healing should be about strict regimens and a “no pain no gain” mentality. I have enough pain already, we all do in our own ways, and so garden therapy to me is a way to be gentle and kind to myself. That’s what my sunny day in January did that no prescription drug or physiotherapy session can match; it warmed me up, body and soul, and gave me new energy to cope with life’s challenges. As the ground thaws making way for seemingly endless sunny days in the garden, I look forward to the gardening year and the nurturing both my plants and I will benefit from.