Thursday, April 5, 2012

In Celebration of Gardening

Though it's only been in recent years that I've considered myself to be a true gardener, it's hard for me to imagine my life without gardening now. I fell for it in the spring of 2005 and unlike some other hobbies and activities I've engaged in, I'm still as enthused as ever.

April is National Gardening Month and for good reason. All over the country, a new season of growing is beginning, whether you garden year round or only in the warmest months. Each season has its stars and if you live in the Midwest, like I do, it's a three-act performance: Spring, Summer, and Fall. Some gardeners here will even manage an encore in winter.

Spring signals both new beginnings and an end to the ephemerals that break free of winter's grasp. This year was atypical, with warmer temperatures than normal, sooner than normal. Early springs are always welcome, even if we accept them with a bit of trepidation. Late frosts are known to cut the show short, but we roll with it because there's always something else that steps up to take center stage and the show goes on.

I've already had a couple of visitors even though my gardens aren't in prime condition and certainly not like I prefer them to be when sharing them with others. There are still leaves to be removed, dead stems and branches to be pruned, and many weeds to be pulled. But it's spring, you know, and those things are to be expected and are often overlooked in favor of the bright yellows, reds, purples, pinks, oranges, and whites of all those glorious spring flowers.

Crocus tommasinianus blooming in our yard.

My guests sighed as they finished up the tour and said, "This has to be so much work." I've heard this before and if I were seeing my gardens for the first time and didn't know what it takes to keep them going, I'd probably say the same thing. Sure, in spring, there are always things that need to be done, but my garden as a whole has evolved over the last seven years and maintaining them isn't nearly as labor-intensive as it appears.

'Mars', a table grape, is one of three varieties we grow at Our Little Acre.

As my gardening experience increased, so did my gardens. And that's why it doesn't seem like a lot of work now. I truly enjoy spending time in my gardens, whether it's weeding, pruning, planting, or simply strolling through them, taking note of what's blooming and observing the wildlife that enjoys them as much as I do. Each bit of it is relaxing to me, even though there are days when I fall into bed, exhausted. It's a good tired - trust me.

A hummingbird moth sips nectar from Monarda.

Usually, any activity that we do for fun has to be pretty rewarding in order for us to continue doing it. How is gardening rewarding for me? Let me count the ways:

The cotyledons of a tomato seedling struggle
to break free of the seedcoat.
  1. The miracle of seeing a seed turn into a plant that feeds me or graces the world with its beauty is reason enough, all by itself.

  2. It's a creative outlet, even for an artistically-challenged person like me. I can create, change, create again, change some more, and so on and so forth, and still feel a great sense of accomplishment every single time.

  3. I believe that God created me and all the other living things I share this world with. Gardening makes me feel like I'm a part of the greater universal whole.

  4. I find all the unique characteristics and habits of each plant I grow to be incredibly fascinating. I learn new facts and trivia all the time. This keeps me from getting bored.

    Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'

  5. There are always new challenges. I like being challenged.

  6. Gardening smells good. I'm a super-sniffer and the garden satisfies my olfactory sense in more ways than I can count. I even like the smell of dirt.  Besides, the soil contains micro-organisms that, when inhaled while working in your garden, boost your mood. It's true.
So here we go again - another season of fun!  Tell me - why do you garden?


This post was in response to an invitation by™, to partner with them in observance of National Gardening Month in April. No compensation was offered to me prior to the publication of this post and I was able to choose my topic. I agreed to do it because of the consumer relationship I've enjoyed with them over the years.

This month (until April 30, 2012), they are offering a free gift of a seed mat containing both annual and perennial butterfly-attracting flower seeds with every $50 order. See their current email newsletter here.


daisy g said...

Lovely post. I garden because it makes me feel closer to God, to who I am and to the wonders of nature.

Unknown said...

I have never really stepped back and asked myself, why? I have always just had this need to dig in the dirt:0) And like you Kylee, I learn something new everyday. Thank you for your wonderful blog.

spurge said...

Nice reflections Kylee. I love your bright orange tulips around the birdbath!

Jennifer said...

Excellent post! I agree with you completely about how people will think that your garden is so much work....when I look at my garden, I don't see work, I see enjoyment and pleasure! I read a quote once that went sort of, "Gardening is the ultimate belief in hope." That speaks to me! I love beautifying my little corner of the world. I caught the bug and it has stayed with me ever since.

Alison said...

All great reasons to garden. I garden to satisfy my creative urges too. And my need to always be learning something. And nurturing something too, now that my son has been gone for more than 10 years (although the husband definitely still needs nurturing, LOL)

Erin @ The Impatient Gardener said...

I love the challenge in gardening. It's a lot like sailing in the respect that you never know everything there is to know; you are always learning. When I look back at the things I've learned over the years I've been gardening it's really amazing how far I've come. I love being at to look out at my progress every day and I find that it's one of the few home improvement projects a person can do all by themselves without hiring a professional.

It has surpassed hobby for me and is as much a part of my lifestyle as sailing is.

Julie said...

I have chickens, and watch them from my side of the fence until the growing season is over. I let them have full run of the yard in late fall and winter only!

Miss Lady Bug said...

Nice post. I like your site and I nominated it for the Sunshine Award. I think it's a fun award and I hope you find it interesting:

Anonymous said...

I only started to consider myself a "gardener" recently, too. We bought a home in a field and needed to start a garden from scratch. I love poetry and creativity, so I turned to Emily Dickinson for inspiration and her gardens. Through that process of creation I fell in love with all my planted things and now look forward to them, each in turn, and love adding to them, as well. There's so much to learn!

Kylee Baumle said...

daisy ~ Thank you. I think we have to be kindred spirits. :-)

Penny ~ Thank YOU! Yes, there's just something about that dirt, isn't there? ;-)

spurge ~ Thank you! This year, those tulips had way more yellow in them than orange! Isn't that strange? But then, it's been a strange winter and spring...

Jennifer ~ This is so true. If we didn't have hope in tomorrow, we wouldn't bother gardening, would we? It's the faith in what's to come. :-)

Alison ~ Nurturing...yes, absolutely. I began gardening the same year our younger daughter graduated from college. Maybe that says something?

Erin ~ That's a great way to put it, Erin. It IS a lifestyle. It's just a part of who we are now. :-)

Julie ~ I think you might have meant to leave your comment on the chicken giveaway blog post. Yes, that's the safest time to let them run!

Miss Lady Bug ~ That's really nice of you! Thank you!

emilydickinsonsgarden ~ I've got Emily Dickinson's Herbarium book and am simply fascinated by it! That's such a challenge, starting a garden from scratch at a home in the field. That's pretty much what ours is!

Blombud said...

NIce to read your thoughts and others comments. Gardening for me is a sort of meditation, not work at all :-) When I'm in the garden I think of nothing else but what Im doing right there and then. It really clears the mind.

Kylee Baumle said...

Blombud ~ I feel the same way! Nothing else compares to it.

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