The Healthy Gardener

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September Charm Anemone

There have been plenty of studies that show the benefits of gardening. Just getting outside, in the fresh air and sunshine can boost your mood, wipe away depression, lower blood pressure, regulate hormones, you name it. Actually being an active gardener multiplies the benefits. Heart health, muscle tone, mobility, everything is improved by working in your garden, so long as you don’t over-do it. Weekend warriors beware, you have to warm up and cool down, and listen to your body when it’s just about had enough.

But, I don’t need studies to know that the gardening work I do is good for me. Before we owned Ballantyne Gardens, I worked as a manager in another garden center. Often times I would leave work, my legs numb and aching, my brain fried. I sometimes could not remember the drive home, I was just so tired and burned out from busy, long days. Getting home is always a relief. We had a border collie who was left home alone all day and was just bursting with energy the minute I walked in the door. She was my motivation for going outside immediately! Once out there, I would walk around looking at my garden, checking for new weeds, making sure every new plant was happy and growing, watching my garden’s progress. Soon, I would start pulling some of those weeds, fluffing mulch, going for the pruning shears to get those dead-heads. Before I knew it, I was planting things, adding another bit of mulch, hacking back over-grown shrubs, hauling bags of potting soil, kneeling, stooping and reaching like a woman possessed. My energy renewed by my garden! Dinner a distant thought, soon the hungry husband would be home. Sometimes I could walk away and concentrate on cooking. Often, I could not. When he got home he would be pulled into my gardening projects. Usually he would need a snack first. But, by dark we would both need to give it up. By then tired enough to call it a day and eat a late dinner.

My point is I was exhausted and then rejuvenated by something I could not imagine. Today is really no different. Owning a small business, I often don’t get home before dark. But when I do, I am still exhausted from the day and I am still rejuvenated by my garden if I just take the dog out and start pulling weeds, and fluffing mulch and pruning the dead-heads. Soon my mind is off the worries of the day. Thoughts of dinner fade away. It’s just me and Tim and Henry (the dog) maybe our cat if he’s feeling social, and the garden. It’s the sounds of the birds building their nests, the bees buzzing around me (minding their own business, while I mind mine), the smell of nectar and grass, the feel of pruning shears in my gloved hand and a primal focus on keeping my garden healthy and whole. Or is it the other way around?