Each April, the National Gardening Association (NGA), sponsors National Garden Month to encourage individuals to garden.
As I wrote about last year, the NGA encourages everyone to join in this yearly celebration to make “America a greener, healthier, more livable place.”
Aside from improving our environment and having your own source of flowers, fruit and vegetables, we often overlook the other benefits that gardening provides us.
To start with, gardening really is exercise. The physical benefits of gardening are often discounted because people don’t think of it as “real” exercise. But, gardening offers the same benefits as other forms of exercise do. Did you know that you can burn as many calories in 45 minutes of gardening as you can in 30 minutes of aerobics? And depending on the task that you are doing, you are using many different muscle groups, and increasing your flexibility and strength.
Working in the garden reduces stress. Connecting with nature, digging in the dirt, even weeding is one of the best stress reducers I have found. When I first started gardening, I dreaded the thought of weeding by hand. I thought it was an unnecessary and unpleasant part of gardening. As the years have gone by, I have found that weeding is the one thing that lets me totally unwind and makes me forget about everything else. I am so intent on getting those weeds out of my garden that I become intensely focused on it.
This brings me to another gardening benefit, it allows me to unplug and forces me to slow down the pace of my life. We are all so plugged in and connected that working in the garden is the one way that I can get away from the constant barrage of information being connected brings with it.
One of the most surprising things that gardening has done for me is to teach me how to have more patience. Think about it. You can’t rush nature. If you sow seeds, or plant seedlings, you can’t make them grow faster than they are able to grow just because you are limited on time or by pressuring them to grow faster. They grow at the pace they are supposed to grow at, no faster or slower.
Gardening also releases our creativity, often without us even realizing it. Planning the garden for the year or the season, choosing flower colors and plant palettes, and arranging the fresh flowers from your garden all require you to use your creative side.