Gardens are good for people. Beauty, nature, nice smells, even worms can have appeal in the right situation.
I read recently that scientists have unearthed microbes in the dirt (can’t help the pun – sorry!) that cause the brain to release endorphins and serotonin – your built-in happy drugs.
Research doctors in England found that gardens made life better for chronically ill patients. When taken into a garden to enjoy the flowers or even do as much mucking about as they were able, the patients’ symptoms were sometimes relieved as effectively as drugs. Better still, there were no side effects (except muddy fingers!).
I started gardening first because my father did and after he died it was a way to feel connected to him. He grew roses with a passion for their beauty and a love of the scent. When he passed away, my young family was moving around a lot, but I planted my first rose bush (an apricot tea) in the stark garden of the rental. My kids learned to play around the thorns, and smell it with me.
No matter where I lived, I managed to plant a rose or two…and then a few annuals…and then perennials. I felt like Johnny Appleseed, planting beauty to enjoy and then leave behind for unknown strangers to be surprised when gorgeous flowers erupted from boring, old dirt.
When I didn’t have time (or energy) to write, gardening gave me a way to make something beautiful. What’s more, the flowers felt like the world itself was giving me a present (and I love presents!). I would put some seeds or a small plant into the ground, throw in a little fertilizer if I had it, and before long—voila! Perfect beauty and a lovely smell.
The more I weeded, planted and fertilized, the more beautiful my garden became. (I wish you could smell the old rose blooming in pink clusters near my door. Guaranteed, it will make you sigh with pure primitive pleasure.)
So, in every life some healing is needed now and then. There’s nothing for it but to sigh, try to smile, and smell the roses.