Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gardening by Heart

I am reading Joyce McGreevy's book Gardening by Heart: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Garden. the book encourages everyone to garden and discusses the benefits of gardening for one's well-being. It offers advice for how to become a gardener, how to learn to stop and "smell the roses" so to speak.

McGreevy's directions and observations make me think of the gardeners I met last summer for my The Gardener's Soul project. McGreevy discusses the same themes that have come up over and over again with my gardeners:
  • A garden brings happiness.
  • Any plant you tend can be your garden.
  • Gardening is a way for us to connect with nature and find respect for the earth.
  • Gardening itself is a process. It is the act of gardening that brings us joy.
  • A gardener's character is seen in the garden he/she creates.
  • Our lives are filled with gardens. We just need to open our eyes and look for them
  • Experience is important in the garden. We need only to pay attention to nature to be a good gardener.
  • Bring all of your senses to your garden to really experience it.
  • "Find what thrives for you and grow it."
  • Find the corner of the garden that speaks to your soul and cherish it.
  • Find a connection to nature every day, even if only for a limited time.
  • We connect to generations in the garden.

When in the garden, I work hard. I sweat. I step back and take a quick look. Then, I dive in again and work some more. When I am all through, I grab my little girl and we walk around the yard together, just like my dad did with me when I was a girl. We examine plants, smells and design. We frolic. (Isn't that a lovely word? Just made for the garden...) For me, the cap on the gardening experience is writing about what I've planted or grabbing my camera to take photographs of my work. From seed to photo completes my gardening experience. The camera helps me stop and smell the roses. I remember the experience better when I had a camera in my hand to record it.

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