10 Mar Why You Should Be Gardening
Zachary Turck, Horticultural Therapist & Instructor
You’ve stopped to smell the roses at your local community garden.
You’ve been enticed by the vivacious produce on display at the farmer’s market. Now you’re eyeing that space you have that would be just perfect for a flower box or some herb pots. But you hesitate… maybe you don’t want to be a “plant-killer,” or maybe you feel like it’s just not
worth the time or effort. Let me reassure you that the garden — any garden, and the act of gardening, are more valuable than you might have imagined.
Gardens bring healing. Aside from ‘just’ being pretty to look at, gardens gently and positively stimulate the senses and engage the mind while decreasing stress levels. Every child Everyone loves touching the fuzzy foliage of the Lamb’s Ear plant (Stachys byzantina), or watching butterflies frolic over Bee Balm (Monarda).
As we age, the sensory experiences from various plants we’ve encountered stick with us and give us a sense of comfort. Many are recognizing the detrimental effects brought on by a disconnect with nature, especially impacting city populations. The urban landscape can be harsh. Its full of
cold, hard places. Flashing lights and flagrant sounds assault us from all angles. Stress and hypertension are leading causes of disease effecting industrialized areas, and the poor air quality doesn’t help either. As natural beings, our well-being necessitates some connection to nature; gardening is a simple way to positively impact your own health and the environment around you.
Gardens can supplement your diet with healthy food. You don’t need to buy the farm — how about you start with growing a handful of your favorite herbs? How many times have you went and bought a bushel of basil, used a third of it, and the rest of it turned soggy and unusable? With little care, you could have fresh greens on hand all season long. Maybe you have more space, and maybe you also like blueberries. They’re native to our area here in the Northeast, so
they won’t need much extra help from you as a gardener besides a good planting in some quality, acidic soil. But hey, it’s your garden. If you like to eat tomatoes with your basil instead of blueberries, I’ll allow it.
Growing your own food — on any scale — is empowering. In the process, you might also cultivate a greater appreciation for the food you eat. Gardening does not need to be time consuming, nor cash consuming. Sure, there will be some investment in your gardening endeavors. But this is the wonderful world of botany, where tiny seeds that birds eat become giant trees that they nest in. Any investment here, small or large, is bound to reap
exponential dividends. For those with little time to spare, you can choose low maintenance plants like succulents and sedums.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina)
Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)
(Opuntia) gives you beautiful flowers and edible fruits — all you have to do is give it light (ok, you may water it occasionally). From a strictly financial standpoint, gardens can even save money and increase value. ThisOldHouse.com claims that landscaping is one of the top three home investments generating the greatest return. People tend to prefer green over grey. An NYC apartment with a beautiful terrace garden certainly presents greater value than the ubiquitous brick and concrete we see everywhere else in the city.
So let’s recap some of the benefits that gardening provides, just touched on in this brief article:
Beautifies the landscape
Softens the harshness of the urban landscape and city life
Therapeutically engages the psychological and emotional faculties
Beneficial to wildlife and our environment
Source of healthy, nutritional food
Financial savings (for food growers)
Increased value of real estate space
These points could be expounded on and more points could be made, but after presenting this
evidence I’m confident I can rest my case. Go, get that basil plant. And the blueberry too. Be
cause there are so many reasons why you should be gardening this spring.