First North American Rights Only
Total Word Count – 988 words
THERAPIES of GARDENING
New to gardening, I never understood how therapeutic gardening could be until my father became ill. Years prior, I played at gardening, planting a rose bush here…a gardenia there…pulling an occasional weed…never planning, or recognizing how gardening heals a broken heart. When my father was battling cancer, I neglected my rose gardens. After he died, I allowed my rose bushes to mourn his passing with me. I failed to fertilize or care for the roses, letting several get diseases while watching them grow long and spiky. Eventually those rose bushes were so infested with black spot, they died.
The summer of 1999 was the most depressing summer I have lived, until I noticed a cedar tree germinating in the front lawn, after returning home from my father’s funeral. Before summer ended, this tiny tree grew symbolically for me – an image of new life, new ambition, and new dreams. Suddenly gardening was taking on a new significance for me, teaching me how germination and gardening provides creativity, enjoyment, and therapy during times of unbearable sadness.
During the heat of the summer of 1999, I found myself escaping grief by planting petunias, pulling weeds, and fertilizing the few flowers left. My husband and I built a wilderness area in the front yard where grass refused to grow. I planted Iris bulbs, purple fountain grass, amaryllis, black-eyed Susan, canna lilies, and begonias surrounding the border. When these flowers blossomed with radiant colors, so did I.
Only a gardener understands the passion I feel when gardening. This is the first year I have dedicated myself to the therapy of gardening. Although my husband and I have lived in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina for over twenty years, we had a mutual agreement that I would care for the house, and he could care for the yards. Now that I have introduced myself to the therapy of gardening, I feel refreshed after planting, weeding, or pruning, especially this year when I see the results of my care with the rose gardens. My rose gardens are a rainbow of colors, from the American beauty, triple delight, blue, yellow, apricot, and white. I nourish the roses with Ironite, Epsom Salt, Rose Pride, and coffee grounds, combined with lots of tender loving care. I am rewarded with beautiful rosebuds that open to pastel shades of brilliance and aroma.
In the back yard, my husband and I landscaped the edges of the yard with concrete retainer walls, building a foundation for a shade garden. Presently, we have the foundation of the retainer wall placed, and we plan to add additional rows of retainer walls over the summer. We are using leaves as the compost for this shade garden area, while I plant hosta, bleeding hearts, and other shade loving species to my new shade garden.
Last year in memory of my father, I planted an Easter lily by a Palmetto tree. Reading a gardening magazine, I recognized that Easter lilies are toxic to animals, so I moved the Easter lily to the front yard. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it, so I planted lantana. I like to use statues in the garden, so I have placed a statue of a pelican in that flowerbed. Angel bird feeders sit in the shade garden. Additional flowerbeds contain a bench, a statue of a dog, in memory of my best friend, Muffy, a mixed breed terrier with a lot of schnauzer, we lost a few years ago. In memory of her passing I planted a variety of Gerber daisies, lantanas, and another lily assortment, surrounded by an American rose bush in the center. Complimenting this bed is a concrete birdbath and birdhouse. Guardian angel statues are placed in other areas, along with a concrete birdbath, bench, and more guardian angels.
Over the summer, I hope to finalize my shade garden, although since I became a gardener I realize that gardening is a constant work-in-progress, because gardening ideas are a constant source of enjoyment and inspiration. One of the most rewarding aspects of gardening is the realization that if something does not look or grow well in one area, all it needs is to be transplanted and nurtured in another area of the garden.
I love to express myself in my gardening. Next year I will plant more flowers and transplant some of the mistakes I made as a novice to gardening. Now that I am so passionate about gardening, I am learning how gardening really is a new art form, at least for me. Gardening mistakes made can be corrected by transplanting, moving, or rearranging. Gardening has given me new a new lease on life, providing another outlet of expression; and on days when I am sad, if I work in the garden, my sadness disappears.
My worst gardening mistake was I failed to appreciate the therapeutic value of gardening until later on, after losing a part of myself when my father died. After much grief and soul searching, I discovered life is to be enjoyed by the fruits of our labor, and so, I find new ways to reflect as I dig holes to plant flowers, bulbs, and rose bushes.
After planting a spring garden, flowers bloom with vibrant colors and scents, providing gardeners with newfound appreciation of the beauty of life. Although it took losing someone significant in my life to teach me appreciation of life, I hope you will not make the same mistake. Enjoy gardening, along with the therapeutic rewards of gardening. If you have a bad day, take the hostility away by digging in your garden, or pulling weeds. On one such day, after a stress filled day at work, I came home planting hundreds of gladiola bulbs…They flourished with a rainbow of colors and still provide great joy and comfort. Make gardening therapeutic on a sad day…You will be significantly rewarded.