I’ll admit it up front–I enjoy gardening. Adore gardening.
Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s silly, it can be time-consuming and expensive, it’s bourgeois. Who are you trying to impress with your garden? Yourself? Your neighbors? Either way, it’s a form of vanity.
Well, I choose to think of it as so much more.
First, it’s therapeutic. When I’m in the garden, pulling weeds, or digging holes for shrubs or mowing the lawn, and sweating (during these scorching 59 degree UP spring days), I forget everything except for what’s directly in front of me. It demands my attention. Sometimes, I’ll admit, my mind does wander, but it’s generally good thoughts and it’s only momentary because I have to stay focused on the task at hand.
Second, gardening appeals to my aesthetic sense. I and my ladyfriend sit on our porch some mornings or evenings and gaze out at what we’ve done–the neatly trimmed lilac bush, the sprouting tulips and daffodils, the newly mowed lawn, the trickling waterfall–and a calm comes over us. It’s beautiful, astoundingly beautiful.
Finally, it’s rewarding in an immediate way. You plant a bush, and that area looks better. You mow and edge the lawn, and your yard looks neat. You yank some ugly, little weeds, and suddenly the flowers and shrubs that had been surrounded by the weeds are enhanced. With so many of our tasks in life, you have to wait for the reward. In your yard, you don’t.
Some gardeners don’t even regard ornamental gardens as true “gardens”. You have to pull produce from your garden, they say, to consider it a true garden. Yeah, okay. Whatever. I appreciate tomatoes and peppers–we grow a few–but as I mentioned, there’s something to be said for aesthetics. Function is great, but I can leave that to the farmers–and I see them every week at the Marquette Farmers Market. To me and my ladyfriend sitting on our porch, sipping our wine as the sun eases slowly toward the horizon, we’ll take the pretty. We’ll make the pretty. It looks good, it smells good, it feels good.
Ornamental gardens, to me, fall midway between farming and art. Not a bad place to be.