The other evening I was watering my garden. I hadn’t needed to do so for a couple of days as we had enjoyed glorious rain. Then I saw something that made me excited and very happy. It was an orange gladiolus. You may wonder why a single flower could make me so happy.
My garden brings me much joy and contentment. I love to potter around planting seeds and seedlings or established plants, enjoying Nature. When I cut back shrubs I love smelling the foliage or flowers of scented pelargoniums, lavender, roses and rosemary. It is a pleasure to water the garden with a hose and take time to see how the vegetable garden is progressing. (The tomatoes are going very well this year.)
One of my favourite ways to relax is sitting in the garden watching birds come to eat the seed I scatter. It is also delightful to watch them drinking from the birdbath or taking a bath. I have selected some shrubs specifically to attract more birds to my garden. Watching birds sipping nectar from flowers fills my heart with joy. I feel so much gratitude when I am having my morning coffee and looking at my garden.
Some plants make me particularly happy because they remind me of people who have been important in my life. Gardening is enjoyed by many of the women in my family. This brings me back to the orange gladiolus. My grandma, a wonderful woman with whom I spent lots of time during my childhood, loved her garden. Every year she planted gladi corms and would pick the flowers and bring them inside to arrange in a tall vase. A cousin gave me some gladi corms for my birthday this year.
When I see or smell violets and sweet peas I think of my grandma. Pansies, lilies, poppies, snapdragons and daisies bring back memories. I also remember the delicious sweet corn, raspberries, strawberries, cucumbers and beans she grew. I spent many hours happily playing in the sand pit which was under the fig tree. There was a sturdy swing hanging from that fig tree too.
My mother loved her garden too. I remember the pink nerines that grew by the front gate of my childhood home and a fascinating bush that had swan shaped green pods. There were roses, geraniums, diosma, periwinkles and an assortment of annuals. Mum always had thyme growing to put into the stuffing for Sunday’s roast.
Nasturtiums and rosemary remind me of a dear friend, Margaret. She was the mother of a friend from university who became like a second mother to me. I remember her garden with its riot of bright coloured nasturtiums with happiness.
In my own garden I have plants that friends have given me. Other plants have grown from cuttings I was given when I moved in. There is a small lemon tree my older son gave me for my birthday last year growing in my back yard.
Studies show gardening is good for our physical well being. The exercise involved in gardening helps with a healthy life style. Gardening is also good for the soul. Being in touch with Nature in general makes people feel more positive. Research done by two universities in Texas showed people who spend time gardening are more optimistic and have a greater zest for life than non gardeners. Gardening reduces stress and encourages you to slow down.
As well as the physical and mental health benefits of having a garden, it links me to positive memories of friends and family. While I have a garden there is something to enjoy in the present moment and something to look forward to.