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"Deep in their roots, All flowers keep the light." Theodore Roethke
Some people can’t imagine why some other people love digging in the dirt. It’s a messy job that gets our clothes, hands, and, inevitably, face, dirty when wiping the sweat from our brows. It requires patience while we wait for our plants, flowers and produce to reach their full potential. It takes time to dig, water, weed and prune to keep our plantings beautiful. So why do so many people love the act of gardening when it’s messy, time-consuming and requires unending patience – sometimes even years of waiting for full bloom?
The benefits of gardening greatly outweigh the downsides. For so many, gardening is therapeutic. The act of being outside communing with nature offers peace and solitude because we are connecting with the Earth in so many ways. And being in the garden is often a place of silence where we can reflect or meditate without distraction or outside demands on our time. Here are just a few benefits of gardening.
1. It is good exercise. Digging, squatting, and pulling weeds – they are all forms of exercise that burn calories, tone muscles and stretch our bodies.
2. It is done in the fresh air. Being outside allows our lungs to breathe in fresh oxygen that rejuvenates and heals the body and mind. We are also exposed to sunlight which boosts our mood and increases vitamin D production.
3. It is good for the environment. By growing our own fruits, vegetables and herbs, we are reducing the need for store bought produce. This means that there is less need for mass farming techniques that utilize chemical fertilizers and leech the soil of nutrients. Plus, fresh produce tastes better and is healthier for us.
4. It enhances the beauty of our surroundings. By planting flowers, shrubs, plants and produce, we are creating a serene space of beauty. Shrubs soften the harshness of freeway barriers and flowers beautify the paths and entrances of businesses. And there is nothing like a bouquet of fresh flowers to welcome you home after a long day of work.
5. It provides food and shelter for animals and insects. Plants are not just for beauty and food. They are the homes for countless insects and animals who benefit the environment. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies rely on nectar from flowers to survive. Birds of all kinds need trees and shrubs in which to build their nests. And even the sometimes pesky animals like deer, rabbits and squirrels need plants to survive.
6. It gives us a sense of accomplishment. Creating and maintaining a garden can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can undertake. It requires a personal stake in the success of the garden which leads to even greater satisfaction when those first blooms of spring emerge from the fall-planted bulbs we weren’t sure would grow; or when that first plump green bean or ripe tomato are ready for picking. The sense of accomplishment and pride in creating our very own green space makes gardening one of America’s top hobbies.
So if you’re a long-time green thumb or just dabbling in gardening, take stock of your yard, determine your needs and head to your local garden center. Everyone from large mass markets to grocery stores are now carrying plants and garden supplies so pick up some plants or seeds today and make your backyard, patio or kitchen counter your own private garden.
For garden centers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area visit: http://www.yellowpages.com/Minneapolis-MN/Garden-Centers?From=gglgeo1_garden_gardening&expansion_factor=2