What is the best part of gardening? Is it the sweat equity put into the landscapes or merely being able to stroll through it? Is there anything that comes close to stepping into our own-made paradise, beverage in hand, dipping the nose into flowers with delicate fragrances? I imagine there are as many reasons why we love gardening, as there are gardeners. For some, it may be a status symbol or the thrill of the hunt and a collection of rare plants. For others, it is a connection to the land and nature.
Me? I like getting dirt under my fingernails. I love sitting on the steps of the front porch surveying my plant kingdom, tea in one hand, and an arm wrapped around Kono, my Australian shepherd dog. This is the office where I plan the next creative strategy. Move this plant here; plant another one there, while imagining how the garden bed will look when it is finished. This is where I make decisions about ripping out an inappropriate plant or reassessing the mature garden and tweaking it to be even better and easier to take care of. The garden is also my laboratory where I perform experiments; when I make mistakes, learn how to correct them. It is a place where I push the limits of proper plant placements and observe the outcome.
But it's more than that. Gardening seems to fulfill a need in me to connect with the earth; where that need comes from is elusive. When I am away from it too long, it pulls me back. Some invisible thread is wrapped around my soul, constantly tugging at me, reminding me where I find fulfillment.
My garden is the place I go for refuge and renewal. I'm an artist, and the garden is my ever-changing sculpture. This place gives me food for my body while nourishing the spirit. It teaches me patience and how to share with other creatures, and when they get out of hand, how to let some things go. Any true gardener knows the yearning that tending the soil and its inhabitants satisfy.