“Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

Despite the cold and windy day this Sunday afternoon past, there was garden work to get to so I put on an extra layer and went out to “kiss the ground,” as the poet would say. Between now and June 10th, the date of the Haddon Heights Garden Tour, you will probably read more about what happens behind the scenes to get ready for an event like this. For now, know that it’s planting time and will be for a good while. Then buy your ticket at the Haddon Heights library and come take a look to see for yourself if the outcome was worth the  story. Proceeds for the tour benefit the library and you can see many of the plants I photograph for this newsletter. Also, the tour is good for me to do every so often because the garden arrives to the best it can be and forces me to put a sharp design and editorial eye on it.

Sunday’s work included installing the following plants: four Peony, three Hosta, four Fern, a Virginia Creeper (I might be afraid of it shortly so I’ll keep my eye peeled but just now I am romanticizing it climbing over the arbor and impressing me with a spectacular show come fall), three Heather called “Winter Chocolate,” really red and gold-colored. These may also prove to be a bad choice as I know they are sometimes hard to grow and I should know better than to take chances on garden tour years. But I have hope so let’s see what happens. The color of this plant is so curious and it allows the “red thread” theme of my garden design to carry along to the end of the newly expanded planting bed. I then planted about a dozen Narcissus “Cheerfulness,” a fragrant, double-bloomer, multi-flowering variety left over from Easter decorations and three Echinacea called “Cherokee Sunset.” So far the rabbits haven’t found them and I hope as a preventative the hawk will continue to circle the place allowing them to grow to enough size and toughness to render them unpalatable to tall-eared rodents.

My friend Ed has an expression that describes springtime in my world: “busier than a one-armed paper hanger.” The visual of juggling rolls of drawing paper, plans, markers and plants fits right in. But it never really feels like work, the whole of this creative process.  In this I am so grateful that I love what I do so passionately–whether the work of the day is planting in my own garden, conceptualizing a client’s garden, and finally seeing that come to life. It feels more like worship than work.

Still, there are other reasons to garden and to be involved in garden-related activities: they promote health and well-being. Here are a few of the ways:
1. Instant calm. Some of you might say that discovering squirrel destruction to your tomato crop is not instant calm but instant curse words. I grant that there are exceptions. But one study shows that in comparing thirty minutes of reading to thirty minutes of gardening, gardening produced a more extended period of calm-effect;
2. Brain function. Gardening involves critical thinking skills, learning, problem-solving and sensory awareness. Trying to out-smart the rodents in the garden most certainly utilizes critical thinking skills. Another way is figuring out how to do things easier, faster and more economically. You have to read and research about which plants are the best for the conditions you have (after analyzing the conditions to start with.) You need to pay attention to what is going on in the garden on a very detailed level to care for it properly. You need to be aware of color, texture and scent as components to a complete picture;
3. “Biophilia.” Our instinctive draw to other living and growing things, our connection to all other areas of life, to the web of life. Elizabeth Brignac writes, “In 2010, Dr. Frances Kuo at the University of Illinois reviewed many medical studies that examined interactions between exposure to nature and human well-being. She discovered that across the board, with startling consistency, the results agreed: human beings thrive in nature. Exposure to the natural world reduces aggression, relives depression and anxiety, enhances community life, and helps us in dozens of other ways.”

It’s time to go and kiss some ground.


Sources: American Horticulture Therapy Website; article on www.eartheasy.com by Robin Jacobs; www.cnn.com/2011–article on health aspects of gardening.

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