Guyside: In the Garden

Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Guyside, Inspiration, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Even a modest garden like ours can be a source of great relaxation and exercise (photo: Bob LeDrew)

Even a modest garden like ours can be a source of great relaxation and exercise (photo: Bob LeDrew)

In my part of the world, spring has finally given us some warm sunny days. It seems as if the plants in my back yard were impatiently waiting to get on with the business of blooming.

And that meant that my partner and I spent some hours over Canada’s Victoria Day weekend tending our little piece of the planet.

When it comes to gardens, I am more inclined to be a passive appreciator. I don’t know much about flowers, but I do like to look at them and smell them. And for the next six months or so, I am lucky enough to be able to take my notebook out to the garden and work in the middle of what we jokingly call “the cottage.”

But I lack the strategic sense when it comes to our garden. Cathy sees what could be, what needs to move, what needs to split. I don’t. And to be honest, digging and weeding and hoisting stuff isn’t of less interest to me. So when it comes to gardening, I’m the brute force and the cheap labour, doing what I’m told by the person with brains.

But even if you’re like me, there are a lot of benefits to be derived by working in the garden. Even some moderate gardening can have similar effects to other forms of exercise, according to Weight Watchers. One implication of that: prepare for gardening the same way as you would for other forms of exercise. Do a little warmup, stretch, and the like. Most important for me is to vary my tasks. Don’t rake for three hour stretches (not that I could rake for that long in my plot anyway); don’t be bent over weeding for hours. Take breaks and change up the task to keep your muscles limber.

There are also psychological and spiritual benefits of working in the garden. The University of Nebraska College of Public Health published a great two-part article outlining the benefits of gardening. Their focus was not only on your own garden space, but on community gardening. If you live near a community garden, you may not only be able to put food on your own table, but to help others who need it to have the freshest, healthiest food that can be imagined. We grow tomatoes every year, and there’s nothing like a fresh tomato plucked right off the vine, or a pasta sauce made with tomatoes and herbs you grew yourself and harvested that very day.

Maybe it just comes down to some very simple truths: it feels good to take responsibility for even a little part of what we eat. It feels good to be in the sun, to watch the rain come down and help your plants grow, to enjoy the harvest. For a white-collar dude like me, it feels good to get your hands dirty from time to time. It’s nice to be the cheap labour and not have to make decisions once in a while!

Spending time in the garden — whether working or enjoying — gives us windows of time when we can simply let go of the other stuff in our lives and just be in the moment. And damn, it’s nice to be lying in the hammock with a beer in reach, and a book open on your chest, idly looking around at your own patch of green. 


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *