I wonder just where my life would be without growing and tending plants. As a toddler I was already picking flowers for the family vase. I had an affinity towards nature. I was attracted to the dirt, the trees, flowers and weeds. Growing up one of twelve children in a small central Wisconsin town we had to learn to entertain ourselves. My brothers and I would climb the samplings and sway with the wind @ the top. We would snitch apples from our neighbors. And we grew things. I started growing plants @ a very young age. I starting with, hard to kill indoor plants, like the “spider” and the “strawberry”. They didn’t mind being neglected and or slightly over watered at times. My enthusiasm began early on because they were so tolerant of my hit or miss practices. However, I must admit, I made up for all my neglect by talking to them. I told them all my problems…and you know I think they understood. I got hooked when I figured out I could root new plants by myself.
4-H played a major role in my love affair with plants. I was also fortunate to have a step mother that enjoyed the art of gardening. Early on, I learned a little rotten manure could go along ways to encourage growth. Our family belonged to the local 4-H club. I learned so much in 4-H, and I especially enjoyed vegetable gardening and canning. For years my whole family got in to the act. We made wine, pickles, applesauce and jam. It was so rewarding to grow things, but then to take it to the next level and make something useful from what was grown was very rewarding. It was something the whole family enjoyed at different times during our upbringing. Even though it was hard, and we sometimes complained, it brought the family together. And we all enjoyed the rewards.
The first thing I did when I fell in love the first time was plant a garden. It was a pathetic attempt for a young college gal, but I loved the process. Each time I moved since my young adult life I’ve planted a garden. As I got older and had children of my own my desire for vegetables waned and perennials gained favor. For about 20 years of my life I accumulated and divided perennials. I did it for myself, my friends, my clients, and my community. Gardening has kept me in relationships with others, by sharing information and plants. It has kept me healthy by encouraging me to bend and stretch. The warm sun made my skin glow by the end of the season.
I’m in my fifties now and still communing with nature by gardening, however as time has aged me I’ve learned to balance this art of gardening with other opportunities. I am so very thankful though for the opportunity to grow and cultivate beautiful plants. As time passes I see how the art of gardening also is a spiritual process, connecting us to the earth and each other.
My life has been a garden. Looking forward to spring I can already smell the ground thawing. I am thankful with anticipation.
I encourage all my readers to bring your families together this year by planting a small garden or a few trees. Watching what you plant grow will teach you many things, but most of all that we are all apart of nature.