Why do we tend to turn to a prescription to heal any and all ailments, when the natural antidote is right in front of us? Gardening has many healing powers for several emotions and illnesses we may all face at some point in our lives such as; anxiety, anger, grief, low self-confidence, depression, damaged self-love, and loneliness.
I was that child who was picking up lizards, building forts in the woods, making mud pies, and spending almost every waking minute outside. As I grew older, dance and cheerleading took the place of my outdoor activities and interests. Growing up, I watched my grandparents year after year have a plentiful harvest in their vegetable garden. Then, as I grew into an adult, time became another factor that prevented extensive enjoyment playing in the dirt. It wasn’t until a devastating loss, in my late thirties that rekindled my love for nature and a new found joy for gardening.
Due to a painful loss, I began to slip into a mild depression. My husband and I already had plans to build an herb and vegetable garden on our property in the Spring. The loss slightly delayed those plans. My husband, being the go getter he is, began to continue plotting out a design that began with laying walking stones in the ground. The hard labor of this project was a tremendous help to our grief. After helping my husband, I then began to find other tasks around our property to keep me outdoors and relieve some of the mixed emotions I was feeling inside. I feverishly began clipping bushes and felt better upon completion of each rounded bush. Breaking a sweat, while accomplishing a task outdoors, gave me a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Once my husband finished laying the walking stones, we began to draw out our plans for the herb and flower garden. We started growing seeds indoors for herbs and marigolds, then we began shopping for flowers. With each trip to Lowes for supplies, I would pick up a few colorful flowering plants to put in between my herbs for a variety of tones. All summer, I could not make a trip to Lowes without bringing home another beautiful Lily, Daisy, Petunia, or something new from the clearance shelf. The contrast of bright flowers in between all of the green herbs is visually stimulating. In addition, the aroma of mint, basil, and dill wafting through the air is so invigorating.
Fast forward to the end of summer and we have a beautiful flower and herb garden right outside of our back door. Building this with my husband has been the most therapeutic part of my healing process. When outside, I do not feel anxiety, pain, sadness, or any negative emotions depression tends to inspire. Building a garden has allowed me to cook healthier using fresh herbs. I have also been able to give several herb blends as well as fresh flower bouquets to friends and family to bring a piece of my happy place to them. Being able to share with others has given a sense of enjoyment to my soul.
How can you create your own garden space?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Find an area where you live, draw a plan, and get started.
- Decide which flowers and herbs would be the most beneficial to you and your family. You should grow things that are pleasing to your senses and that you will use. A great way to get started is to purchase an herb seed starter kit.
- If you don’t have an outdoor area, use flower pots or build raised flower beds.
- Make sure your plants get rain water a few times per week by installing a rain barrel if you have the space, or by simply placing them in the rain.
- If you desire to start plants from seeds and then transplant outdoors, make sure that you give them fertilizer when you transfer them. My favorite to use is Black Cow.
- If insects begin to take a liking to your plants, there are many pesticide free options you can try. However, we didn’t have a problem with insects eating our flowers and herbs. We only had caterpillars eating our dill plant toward the end of summer.
- For outdoor gardens, use a weed barrier such as newspaper or landscape fabric, mulch, and weed preventer to limit your time pulling weeds. This is a huge lesson we learned this year and will certainly do differently next year.
There is something so special and healing about cultivating your own plants, and having your hands in the dirt. Your hard work and sweat will not only heal your soul and force you to exercise with some hard labor, but in turn it will offer you a plentiful harvest. Gardening offers such a holistic prescription for healing, with very little side effects. Try it and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
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Disclaimer: Lowe’s is not compensating me for any mention in this post.
© Wendi and Strength 4 Spouses, 2017.