Garden therapy

Natures antidote to busyness

A busy modern life that glorifies instant results and perfection can leave us feeling really down. But did you know there’s a natural antidote that gives back in spades? See what I did there? Yep, it’s gardening!

I have very fond memories, from when I was a young girl, of visiting my grandma’s house and she had (and still has) a wonderful garden. Luckily for me my grandparents lived close by. They grew flowers — gladiolus, roses, violets, gerberas — as well as fruits and vegetables. There were mulberry and macadamias nut trees, as well as bananas and goosberries. It was wonderful and I’d lose myself exploring and foraging.

I didn’t realise this at the time but spending this time in the garden was cementing my connection with nature and it seems a love of gardening is passed from one generation to the next. I am so grateful my parents spent time in the garden with me. These are some of my most treasured memories. I am sure these experiences, along with frequent camping trips and volunteering with Dad for Landcare, helped shape me into the nature lover I am today.

Connect with nature to find peace

I have heard from many that cultivating a garden, big or small, is very therapeutic. Growing things and using my hands is rewarding and connects me with others and our earth. It puts me back in touch with the seasons and brings so much beauty into my life.

There is nothing so special as watching busy little bees buzzing from bloom to bloom filling up their little hind legs with glorious pollen. When I go out the back to harvest my dinner, I think of all the food miles I am saving, and all the pesticides I’m avoiding. Heaven really.

Slow by nature

Gardening is slow by nature. It takes time. The problem is, I used to do so much work outside of the home and was distracted by the ‘busyness’ of life that keeping a garden seemed to be just another pipe dream… Maybe you feel this way too. I’m pretty sure our pioneering grandparents wouldn’t have considered spending time gardening a luxury; for them, it was probably far more essential for their existence, but that is honestly how it feels these days!

Working 9 – 5 (and then some) kept me out of the garden and cemented my disconnection with nature. I would end up spending lots of time and money trying to compensate for that loss. Things like holidays, shopping, eating out and trying to recreate beauty in my home were burning a hole in my hip pocket. It was a vicious cycle and I felt like I was creating an ever-busier life so I could afford to relax. It all seems a bit ironic really!

Not that long ago even keeping a pot of herbs alive was a struggle. That was before I started slowing down and living more. Gardening has been an important part of that.

A cross-generational exchange

My grandparents and parents have been great guides and I’ve also done lots of experimenting.

My children love gardening too. They pick things and eat them on the spot. My son once simultaneously shoved five cherry tomatoes in his mouth, such is his love of our backyard picnics (don’t worry, we realised he had too many and promptly assisted in their removal). Just shy of two years old, I’m sure his enthusiasm for vegetables would not be so great but for our beautiful times spent in the garden. What’s more my four year old can identify herbs! I hope I am setting them up for a lifetime appreciation of the great outdoors, and good food, like my parents did for me.

It’s a bit special spending time outside as a family, getting back to nature and seeing where food comes from. When I’m gardening I can do a job that I really love while I’ve got my kids with me and that’s a double bonus.

Ideal for recovering perfectionists

As a recovering perfectionist, I have had to let go of control A LOT. Firstly, you can’t control Mother Nature. You can only influence what happens in your garden, not control it. A bit like life really. With little helpers in the garden, things do get trampled and picked or pulled before they’re ripe. It makes me wince, but it has developed my tolerance and patience.

Growing communities

There is so much abundance in gardening. When something is thriving and in season we have plenty for our table, pantry, and to share with our community whether that’s with our neighbours or through the local food swap (If you’re in Yeppoon check out Capricorn Coast Produce Swap on Facebook). It’s so heartwarming to share our produce with others.

I tend to buy seedlings from the farmers’ markets because they are cheap, local and I know they like the climate here. I’ve just now started harvesting my own seeds so I can plant them again. This is something that has fascinated my daughter and she is often bringing me handfuls of seeds from the garden, or planting them herself.

I’ve had to say no to other things to make my garden happen. There is always a cost, right? I work less now. The garden cost us money to establish; things like garden edging, bringing in soil, mulch and irrigation. Spending time and money establishing our garden has been an investment in slow living, and it’s already paying dividends.