“IF I WAS A GARDEN’ by Denise Buchanan

IF I WAS A GARDEN…
BIRDS WOULD FIND ME
BEES WOULD DRINK FROM ME
DOGS WOULD PEE ON ME
CATS WOULD NIP ME

IF I WAS A GARDEN…
BUGS WOULD BITE ME
EARTHWORMS WOULD DIG ME
BUTTERFLIES WOULD VISIT ME
SURPRIZES OF ALL KINDS WOULD AWAIT ME…

 

If I was a garden I would need someone to love me, care for me, water me, prune me and nourish me. Are you willing to take on that challenge?

Creating a garden can be an overwhelming undertaking. We can be fired up to plant the latest seasonal fruit and vegetables and salivate over the ripening of the strawberries and excited about the basil and oregano we will put in our pasta, but when we find out that the garden tasks do not yield immediate results perhaps out taste buds find other sources of satiation along the grocery aisle. As our interest wanes, soon the garden is neglected, and what once was a great idea is now a thirsty patch, full of weeds and a relic for the earth to reclaim.

It need not be so. Perhaps if you knew that cultivating even the smallest garden patch or container garden contributes to your emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing then it might rekindle your efforts to skip that episode of the Bachelorette or NBA game and tend to your inner while you cultivate your outer garden.

 

A. Emotional Wellbeing
If you are surrounded by flowers, vegetables, fruit and the birds, bees and insects they attract, it is hard not to smile and enjoy the beauty of nature. Conventional wisdom explores this phenomena and researchers take time to investigate the value of a garden to uplift us emotionally. At the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, a survey based on the Life Satisfaction Inventory A (LSIA) was used to investigate gardeners’ and nongardeners’ perceptions of life satisfaction. The LSIA was developed in 1961 by Neugarten and measures five components of quality of life including zest for life, resolution and fortitude, congruence between desired and achieved goals, high physical, psychological and social self-concept, and a happy optimistic mood tone. Researchers found that gardeners rated their overall health and their physical activity levels higher than did nongardeners.

 

B. Better Physical Health
Weeding, digging, planting and yard work provide excellent low-impact exercise and contribute to an active lifestyle which produces long term physical benefits; not to mention the fresh produce for better nutritional health. There is something elemental and rewarding about putting your hands in soil and going through the motion of creating something beautiful. There is a context to gardening, a goal, satisfaction that comes from sticking to a course of action through to harvest; a pleasing distraction from the daily work grind. Following a theory first suggested by University of Michigan researchers in the 1980s, many experts have argued that we can replenish ourselves by engaging in “involuntary attention,” an effortless form of attention that we use to enjoy nature. Trading your email for snail tales would seem to be an excellent way to fight stress and attention fatigue, as the rhythms of the natural environment and the repetitive, soothing nature of many gardening tasks provide avenues to distress from the everyday pressures of deadlines and day timers.

 

C. Uplifted Spiritual Health
Gardens can serve as a place for reflection and comfort from the agitations of everyday life.
Consider contemplating the magnificence of nature in say the journey of a seed. If you reflect for a moment on the miracle of the transformation of a pumpkin seed into a fully developed vegetable possessing within it hundreds of seeds to continue the cycle of life, then perhaps you could pause to reflect on your own miraculous journey to reveal the countless gifts that lay latent within you waiting to be harvested and explode into life.

 

The inseparability of body, mind and spirit is necessary for the cultivation of a balanced life and as such gardening provides a valuable resource to guide us along our journey to create more holistic lives. In California we are blessed with such great weather. Give gardening a try if you haven’t already or pick up that old rusty shovel and begin again. Start with growing a lemon tree in a container or try a patch of carrots, kale or spinach. Try beets and peas and tomatoes and enjoy!

 

IF I WAS A GARDEN…
I WOULD BLOOM JUST FOR YOU
I WOULD GIVE YOU NOT JUST ONE OR TWO
MANY PLANTS WOULD BLESS YOUR STEW
AND MUCH MUCH MORE TO GIVE YOUR CREW

IF I WAS A GARDEN…
YOU WOULD JUMP OUT OF BED
TO SEE THAT NEW CABBAGE HEAD
AND REALIZE THAT ALL YOU READ
WAS WORKING LIKE THEY SAID

IF I WAS A GARDEN…
MY HEART WOULD BE FULL OF BLISS
I WOULD NOT WANT TO MISS
THE DAILY BLOOMS AND PLANTS YOU KISS
NOW WHO WOULD EVER FORGET THIS

 

Denise Buchanan is President of Sacred Garden Designs, Inc. a full-service landscape development company which cultivatesHeadshot for book-ad beautiful inner and outer gardens. Denise is a Licensed Landscape Contractor with a Masters in Landscape Architecture and a Masters in Spiritual Psychology. She is a Member of the American Horticultural Therapy Association and has been designing and restoring landscapes for over 15 years. Denise’s passion is to see neglected and underutilized lots transformed into spaces for edible gardens and opportunities for recreation and meditation. She is an advocate for creating healthy cities through providing remedies to the lack of green, useful and recreational spaces, especially in the under-served neighborhoods in Los Angeles. She strives to work within communities, developing relationships and collaborating with government and community-based organizations, and other key stakeholders, to ensure wide range cooperative efforts in developing potential and current allocated green spaces. Denise can be contacted at: denise@sacredgardendesigns.com

 

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