Gardening is not just a hobby, or a way of passing your time after retirement, but gardening is an art, and one of my favourites too. Simply put, it is the practice of planting, growing and cultivating various plants, for different purposes. Decorative plants are grown for their flowers and foliage, or for decorating the house or the garden as a whole. Edible plants are grown to consume the root, the leaves, the fruits, the flowers or herbs. And medicinal plants are grown for their medicinal properties. Gardening is said to be a part of horticulture.
A common misconception about gardening is that, many believe it is suited to a particular age, or a particular kind of people. Gardening after retirement is a common practice, but that doesn’t mean that only retired people can indulge in this activity. They just do so, because it is one of the most relaxing activities which has many mental and physical health benefits. Gardening is such a versatile form of art, that anyone can do it. And all it takes to be good at it, is a little bit of research, and a ton of love for your plants. Just about anyone, of almost any age, can start planting and growing their own plants, in as small a way as starting with window-boxes and balconies, or in as big as, owning an orchard.
But our 21st century busy lifestyle, is filled with gadgets starting from our cell-phones, to laptops, tablets, mp3 players, televisions and so much more. So between the growing technology and our increasing work, where exactly does gardening fit in? Do we really have the time to indulge in an activity which easily requires a few hours, if done properly? Add to that, that the tools or “gadgets” used in gardening are not even “flashy” or fancy… shovels, gloves, spades, seeds, and horrible smelling fertilisers and manure, pruners, hoses and so on.
As a person who loves gardening, and can stay out in her little backyard-garden for hours at a stretch (if the weather in Kolkata allows it, I daresay), I can list many many reasons as to why you should immediately start, if you are not a big fan of this art. But if I really had to convince you, what would I say? Well here goes:
- Gardening ensures you eat safe, healthy food. With the increase in the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, owing to the needs of the ever-increasing population, growing your own vegetable patch ensures you eat fruits and veggies which are not unsafe or hazardous for you and your family. We all know the chemicals in our food these days, can lead to fatal diseases, few of which are miscarriages and nerve disorders.
- Gardening beautifies your home and your surroundings. A pretty little garden is like an attractive outdoor room, where you can entertain guests or spend some quiet time. It will also attract beautiful birds which are a pleasure to watch.
- Gardening is one of the most easy forms of all-in-one exercises, that too for free. According to some studies, an hour of moderate gardening can burn up to 400 calories for men, and up to 300 calories for women. I mean considering we bend, stretch, squat several times, it is like going to a yoga class, and mowing is like taking a full-power walk. And if you lift those heavy seed-bags or manure-bags, it is equivalent to weight-lifting. As we get older, especially us women, we are prone to getting osteoporosis, which can actually be prevented by gardening!
- Gardening can fetch you some big bucks if you choose to go into landscaping, or starting your own business. You can sell the products of your garden, and if you plan to sell your house, the personalised garden can hike the price by as much as 15-20%.
- It enhances your creativity and lets your imagination flow. You can design your shrubs in a particular way, or you can try growing a wide array of colourful flowering plants. Try doing something creative and new every season.
- Gardening also provides a ton of relief-probably why most people indulge in it. It is a well-known stress-buster, whether it is used as a getaway from home, or work-problems, or whether it is used for anger management—pulling out those weeds sure cools you down!
The benefits of gardening are so many, that today an entire medical field is developing around it. This therapy is known as “Horticultural Therapy” and it helps patients deal with traumatic experiences. It has shown success with veterans, victims of natural disasters, criminals as well as in rehabilitation centers and hospitals.
So you see, gardening is actually very useful for your well-being. It is comparatively inexpensive, fun, and makes you happy and care-free. It is like meditation, it makes you more aware and makes you notice the smallest of sounds around you.. be it the crickets, the birds, the bees or even the voice coming from inside you-“your inner voice”.
Gardening can also prove to be an amazing bonding experience. You can do it with your partner or spouse, or with your children to teach them about Mother-Nature, or with neighbours and friends in the form of community gardens. This way your social life will also receive a great boost.
Lastly, I feel I should mention something that we do not really give a thought to. Mother Nature gives us so much, but in return what have we given her? Apart from ravaging and plundering all of her loot, for our selfish needs? She is groaning under our weight.. under the weight of all that we do to cause damage and degradation. Think of gardening as a way to give something back to our Mother. Since Mother’s day just passed, and I am sure all of us did something special for our moms, why not do something special for Mother Nature too? She is after-all a mother too. Start by gardening, and giving her the care and love she has given us. Start today, and see your worries fade away. For a happier Earth, for a happier you!