Therapeutic Gardening

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I have a "green thumb"—it is kind of like a chicken-or-the-egg story. I don’t know if I enjoy gardening because I am good at it, or I am good at it because growing plants and flowers brings me great pleasure and satisfaction. As with most gardeners, there are things about gardening that I enjoy more than others, but I don’t think there is any part of the process that I dislike (even weeding).

I container-garden out of habit--I started gardening while living in a condo with only a concrete slab for a yard. I garden all year—I find catharsis in gardening, its therapeutic value for me is incommensurable.

The Allure of Gardening: Therapy and More Therapy

Perhaps the most therapeutic aspect for me is potting and repotting plants. It might come from my childhood love of playing in sandboxes and dirt and getting my hands dirty—anyway, the allure of springtime magnetically pulls me toward that never-ending search to discover new nurseries. Visiting nurseries itself is a form of therapy—they are abloom in the spring and I am always looking for new captivating plants and flowers. I frequently buy smaller plants because they are usually less costly than larger versions and they grow rapidly in my area.

Over and Over Again—A Cycle of Satisfaction

My plants start out in small pots as accents for the garden, and before you know it they become centerpieces needing larger and larger pots—more and more fun. One of the great things about container gardens is that pots live on, short of the occasional mishap—if you repot a plant into a larger pot, the smaller pot becomes available again, and so back to the nursery for more therapy.

Most experts will tell you to only repot during dormant season; besides the fact that we really don’t have much of a dormant season in this planting region (for more information on climates and plants, click here), I enjoy it so much that I look for any excuse, and really repot most anytime. A well-established plant seems to not care. In fact, sometimes a well-established plant can be divided into several smaller plants, and so, the need for more shopping for pots. I find a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that I nurtured a plant to the point that it needs to be repotted.

Care and Feeding

Almost equally satisfying as potting is the process of watering and feeding my plants. We live in the high desert, so during the late spring and summer, plants need to be watered daily. And each day, I quietly take my trusty hose and water each plant—a quiet and peaceful process that can take a good half-hour or more. And, as with any plant, they need to be fed, and so I feed them regularly. Sometimes, if I am in a rush, I use a hose feeder, but frequently I feed the plants by mixing the plant food in a watering can, watering each plant by hand—satisfying and relaxing.

The Moral of the Story

Like any gardener, I prune my plants regularly and frequently harvest the fruits of my labor in the form of cut flowers. The moral of the story is gardening is one of the great pleasures in life that not only allows you to work with things pleasing to the eye, but the process is, itself, very satisfying. Frankly, if you need a source of relaxation, try it, you’ll like it.