As I have written about before, gardening is good for us in so many ways. If you grow an edible garden, there’s the most obvious way: it provides nutritional, delicious food. There are also physical benefits to gardening. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, it helps us stay flexible through stretching and bending, and it burns calories.
Gardening also provides emotional benefits. It eases stress, gives us a quiet place for reflection and contemplation, and it provides comfort, especially during difficult times.
I can personally attest to the comfort that gardening provides me. And, I will go even further by saying that I have learned, and continue to learn, some valuable life lessons through my garden.
The biggest of these lessons is that you cannot control everything. No matter how much I learn about gardening, how many classes I take, how many books I have read or consult, so that I do everything “right,” something can, and will, still go wrong. And, that is just like life, things just happen, we cannot control everything no matter how much we might think we can.
Which brings me to the next lesson. Mistakes happen, but that doesn’t mean they are failures, it just means we are supposed to learn something from them. When I first started gardening, I had no idea that mint was so invasive and that it would eventually pop up everywhere, outgrowing and overtaking everything else that I planted. It only took one time for me to learn not to plant mint directly in my garden bed if I didn’t want that to happen. If I had kept planting it over and over again and expecting something different to happen, that would have been a failed lesson.
I have also learned that if you neglect or ignore things, you not only run the risk of killing them off, but, at the very least, they will not thrive and live a healthy life. This is true for the important people in our lives. If we take them for granted by burying ourselves in work, or things, or other people, our relationships will not be healthy and happy and can certainly die as well.
Gardening has also taught me to be more patient and to let things happen in their own time. You cannot rush nature’s rhythm and timing. A seed will only grow as fast as it can. Fruit and vegetables will only ripen when it is time for them to ripen. Trying to pressure them into being ready when they are not is futile.
One of the best lessons my garden has taught me is that there really is beauty wherever we look if we take the time to look at things closely, and look beyond the obvious idea of what we think beauty is. When I was younger, I didn’t like succulent plants, and just thought they all looked the same, and had no flowers. I have since learned that during spring and fall, different succulents have beautiful and vibrant flowers. You just have to know when and where to look.