The Dodge Master Gardener Association has a booth each year at different venues, including youth health fairs, Senior Expos, Women’s events, the Dodge County Fair, and more. We talk to a plethora of people about gardening and other horticultural topics.
At one event this year, we set up a dry erase board with the title “Why do YOU like to garden?”. The following answers were enlightening: like the exercise, want to try new things, like fresh produce, enjoy the beauty, my wife makes me, like working in the dirt, want to share with others, like to know what is in my food, and the list went on.
Now that I have both feet firmly planted in my sixth decade, I can say I have seen nearly all of the above benefits. (I have to defer on the “my wife made me” comment, although at one point in my life I gardened because my mother made me.) I am not big on visiting other gardens, no matter how renowned or how spectacular they might be. I prefer working in my own simple gardens, feeling the soil, breathing the fresh air, nurturing the gentle plants, harvesting the fresh vegetables, and doing battle with the elements.
So, why do I love gardening so much? Besides the obvious exercise, and there is plenty of it, up, down, bend, twist, lift, move to the point I sometimes feel it should be an Olympic sport; I just plain enjoy being outside. I can talk all day about the beauty of the birds, butterflies and other elements of nature, but seeing it first hand beats all. Observing and even photographing a butterfly delicately stopping on a flower grown by me is a feast for my eyes. Watching a bee buzz from flower to flower seeing its abdomen and legs heavily laden with pollen is something that cannot be adequately described, but must be seen first-hand.
A friend from the city comes to visit each year and regularly comments on the smell of my landscape. At first, I wasn’t sure how to interpret her comment, until she explained that it was a combination of earth, herbs, and freshness. I like that and keep it tucked in the back of my mind each time I am outside.
Life today can be downright frustrating. Gardening is an excellent way to work out those frustrations. Rather than vent at people around you or slam a door; take a hoe out and annihilate some weeds. What satisfaction! Both you and your garden benefit, not to mention the people who surround you.
Then, there is the fresh food aspect. The tasteless tomatoes purchased in a store really makes you wonder why you bother. But, taking a bite out of a tomato right in the garden with juice dripping down your arm is like eating nectar. Picking peas and beans with “three for the pot, one for the mouth” philosophy makes the other food taste subpar. Even my dog knows the difference and follows me around waiting for a taste from the garden.
Lois McMaster Bujold, an American writer, said, “A hundred objective measurements didn’t sum the worth of a garden; only the delight of its users did that.” Put it on your bucket list for the upcoming season. Make a garden, try something new, venture forth and grow.
Certified Master Gardener