Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

As the May long weekend approaches, many of us are in full gardening mode. The garden beckoned last evening but after a hard rain the soil was wet and it would have been a messier endeavor than I wanted to deal with. Off to the gym, I went instead.

The garden centers with their array of blooms may not help us make the best choices for our gardens. Horticulture societies plant sales are also springing up, and you can be sure their offerings grow easily in your area. Sometimes they are such noxious growers they almost count as weeds.

I planted one such plant which I absolutely love. Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) is in the mint family and very easy to grow. It spreads but that is part of its charm. If you plant it where you want it to spread it can be a wonderful addition to the garden. It is planted in the front of my house and fills in my border plantings. It blooms from spring to fall with beautiful purple flowers. This weekend I will plant more of it along the side of my house. It grows low and quite dense so it is a great background plant for bulbs, roses, lilies, and shrubs. It is long blooming, heat tolerant, resistant to pests, one foot tall and beautiful.

If you are looking for a background plant about one foot high, that spreads, looks good all season and will fill in your bare spots. This may be the plant for you.

One of the plants in my garden I love is the Fern leaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia. It has large red flowers and is a long-lived perennial that is hardy to zone 2. When I first learned of this plant I wanted one. It was for sale for fifty dollars. Even though it was an addition I wanted that seemed too steep. A year later it was for sale for fifteen dollars and I snapped it up.

Another year I added a Tree Peony to my garden and although it is still alive the single pink peony it was grafted to has almost taken over. I can’t bring myself to cut off the single Tree Peony stalk that sticks out of the herbaceous peony.

When we first moved to this house I was in love with Rhododendrons and Azaleas, I bought a couple but they didn’t live long. They don’t do well in my garden and after a few years, I quit planting plants I know don’t do well.

In our garden as well as other areas of our life we can accept the limitations of our soil and climate or we can work hard to grow what needs extra care. Some people plant fig trees they bury each fall. It is worth it to them and that is what makes looking at other peoples gardens interesting. The choices they’ve made, the plants they’ve planted together, do they have an explosion of color or a muted palette? Do they stick to a garden type, English, Japanese, or vegetable? Do they have plants we’ve never seen? Are they able to grow things we cannot?

A garden is a grant teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. Gertrude Jekyll

Every garden is as individual as the person who plants it. Our garden says something about us; do we like what it says? Does it reflect our life; even reflect the lack of time we have to spend on it. What do the plants we choose say about us? Our garden may say more about us than we think, leisure time, disposable income, friendships (plants passed along) as divisions, and gifts, neat and tidy, or growth with wild abandon, a vibrant or muted palette, or a collectors garden.

Our garden like ourselves will evolve over time, some seasons of our life we hardly have time to garden. Other times we can spend most of our day out there. Our garden will reflect this. Gardening is good for our mental health, physical and emotional health. Our garden can be our sanctuary, our work of art, a healing space, or where we entertain. Whatever we get out of our garden it is likely more than we put into it.

Gardening enhances emotional, physical, and mental well-being. It is used in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitative and mental health centers. Creating more green space in our cities fights crime. When we get involved in taking responsibility for caring for something, creating an environment that produces growth such as a garden it builds self-esteem. Lack of self-esteem is one of the reasons people gravitate to crime. To build up our society, we need to build up individuals to see the worth in themselves and others.

When we look upon nature we are healed. If we bring more nature into our world we are a conduit for good. Our gardens may do more good for ourselves and others than we think. What if planting something is part of the change we need to see in the world? Is it true that the greener our world is, the better our society is? Can we all make a difference in some small way by planting something this spring?

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway. Michael Pollan

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, nature, and love.

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Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet Paperback – Apr 28 2003

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