Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Healing Power Of A Garden

Tonight I was reading about gardens and thinking about gardens and fretting about my garden.

Because it's in that jungle like/ past it's prime/ hasn't been weeded for weeks/ rained on too much/  the moonflower is eating the boxwoods/ state it hits every September.

As much as I want to run outside with a flashlight and get to work right now, I'll bide my time till Sunday and pray it doesn't rain, though it's in the forecast.

My first post written two years in September dealt with this very topic: garden neglect.

I thought back to the fall of 2004 when I was a month or so into a big breakup.   After Labor Day I stopped gardening.  The cherry tomatoes hung on the plants, to be eaten by birds. Morning glories climbed up the gutter and onto the roof.  And the grass grew and grew.

I stayed focused on the interior of the house, had the kitchen painted pink (?), a burdensome island that took up 2/3s of the tiny room taken out and a new tile floor laid.

And I lost my appetite for food and for gardening.

Then suddenly it was October 31st, a warm sunny Sunday, and I woke up energized. I went outside and put my hands in the dirt for the first time in months.  And I cleaned beds and pulled down vines and mowed the lawn and ate the last of the cherry tomatoes.

And when I was done and the garden looked loved again, I took one of those showers you take after a day spent working outside.  You know the kind, where you feel sore and energized and calm all at the same time.  And you are sure water has never felt better and you have never been cleaner.

Then I got dressed and went out with a friend and ate a huge meal and then took my first salsa lesson.

The power of dirt and dancing.  Made a new woman out of me.


  1. Hello Jane:
    Having spent over twenty-five years devoted to a two acre garden open, for the most part, to the public, we well understand what you say here about the garden getting away from one and then how it all too readily becomes too much. But, it should be a pleasure and we are sure that, when the moment is right, possibly, as you say, this weekend, then we really believe you will be outside and really enjoying putting it to rights. We do hope so.

  2. i would like to see you do the
    'hot chick -a dee' salsa dance.

    i say weed later.

  3. Hands in the dirt, it is a good thing. Add a little salsa dancing and a hearty meal and you are set. Nice healing story. It's important to know what you need to be happy.

  4. "jungle like/ past it's prime/ hasn't been weeded for weeks/ rained on too much/ the moonflower is eating the boxwoods/ state it hits every September."

    Such a great description, and exactly what my garden looks like right now! Being in/looking at gardens has always been a source of healing for me. Working in them, not so much, though it makes me feel virtuous, or at least not totally lazy, which I have become in recent years when it comes to tending my garden.

  5. I've solved many a problem pulling ragwood. But I'm a little envious of your sprawling moon flower.

  6. Working in the garden always helps feeling better :-)! It works for me too!!

    Happy day,

    Madelief x

  7. Hi Jane, I really enjoyed this post, the way it was written and the feeling behind it. The garden will wait, I'm sure you won't leave it too long! Love Linda x

  8. Both Grandmother and my favorite aunt worked their gardens when they needed peace and solitude. I am sure that is where I learned to do that, too. There is nothing that soothes the spirit quicker. We're almost thru September and October will bring its own special powers. xoxo

  9. It's the unthinking sureness of gardening that does it - your mind drifts away and all of a sudden the space where the troublesome thoughts used to be is filled with a steady, toiling peace. If you're the new woman you became, she's a good one.

  10. Hattatt's Thank God mine isn't open to the public, I would be refunding money left and right! Yes, you're right the time will come, but I sure hope it comes soon!

    Renee, dance now, weed late? Si!

    Denise, yes it is. It's also important to learn to live thru the frustrations. I'm trying.

    Sue, Wish I could redo my house like you: hands on:)

    Jen, Maybe if I stopped reading blogs with perfectly tended gardens i wouldn't feel such a slacker. Nah, that's just me. xo

    An Urban Cottage, I know I must admit i don't hate the moonflower crawl....far from it.

    Madelief, working or just being in your garden would make me very very happy.

    Linda, Thank you:) I'm almost feeling ready to go and pull a few weeds right about now!

    Webb, I certainly hope so. Have you ever known a drearier, wetter September?

    Mise, After reading all these responses, I'm going to change clothes and go out for a bit....v. inspiring this blogging.

  11. Your garden sounds very much like mine at this moment. I'll get to it. Soon. But not today.
    Beautiful story of healing, too.

  12. agreeagreeagree!!

    My hubby's grandpa had a very demanding job at Oxford University, and every single morning he would go out and do half an hour's gardening before breakfast! He said it kept him sane and prepared him for the day. Amazing.

    Good food and dirt under the fingernails and friendship - thanks for the reminder of some of the central things that make life so wonderful! Bxx

  13. I rather like the moonflower sprawling over the boxwood, too. A lovely post. You do manage to say a lot with few words.

    I am in awe of anyone who actually keeps up with a garden all the time. I think they thrive on a little neglect now and then, anyway.

    I read a tip in Organic Gardening magazine some time ago: if you don't have time to weed your garden, just edge it. I've tried it, and it's amazing how nice the garden looks when the edges are tidy!

  14. Dirt and dancing. Exactly. Exactly.

  15. beautifully written janie. i cannot imagine my life w/o my garden. it truly is balm for a battered heart.


  16. So true! Makes me want to run outside right now and get cracking with mine - even though it's nearly midnight and pouring with rain. There is definitely something about putting your hands in that dirt. xx

  17. It really is an awesome feeling right after doing some work on the garden. It has a sense of fulfillment that work has been done and know that it is a good job. Congrats.

  18. Gardening is a hobby that will not only provide a sense of fulfillment but also provide adequate exercise for our body.

  19. Congrats on those impressive pictures of your garden! It looks heavenly and very peaceful!