Blessed be the gardens that bind us

Story and Photos by Rebecca Stoner Kirts

April always brings an awakening of new growth in the garden. It is a time when the greens seem so fresh and the first bits of color burst forth in all their glory. I love this time of year; it is full of renewal and excitement with the potential of what the new growing season will bring forth.

To me, it is also a reflective time … as all my thousands of daffodils (Narcissus spp.) burst open, reminding me of my mother and father’s perpetual presence in the garden. When I walk around on crisp spring mornings, I am constantly reminded of how much my garden passion has given to me. This addiction to nature has sent me on a lifelong path of wonderful connections. 

It all began when I was a young child helping my mother tenderly care for the Iris, helping dig holes for more daffodils under the watchful eye of a loving father or simply picking the seed heads off the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.) to spread their radiant blooms. These tasks rooted me firmly to the earth and provided me the way to stay connected to my loved ones who are no longer physically present. 

So I challenge each of you this growing season to take time to reconnect with your outdoor spaces without having a mission or job that must be accomplished.

This passionate connection has brought so much to my life. It has connected me with so many wonderful people, sent me on too many adventures to count, and allowed me to explore hundreds of beautiful areas. My gardens have given me the platform to write and share knowledge with like-minded individuals. As a result, I have become a better gardener, and appreciate even more the positive impact gardening can have on one’s sense of well-being.  

As gardeners, we all spend so much time worrying about what we need to do to make our growing spaces prettier, healthier, weed-free, etc. that we sometimes don’t appreciate the wonder of it all. I have found myself at that point many times. And due to exhaustion and frustration, have actually more that once debated leaving this obsession behind. Oh, but what a void that would leave in my life!

So next April, I am initiating a new practice. Everyday I am going to spend at least 15 minutes walking my gardens. I am going to put down the clippers, stow away the gloves and camera, and set forth on a path of mindful appreciation of the beauty and wonder of nature. No cell phones, no interruptions – just me and the land. I want to rededicate myself to this garden that has given me so much. It is important to my soul to spend time each day to marvel in the awe of the miracle of all the plants, some which have graced me with their beauty for 30-plus years.

I plant masses of certain flowers that fill me with fond memories and connect me to my garden.

Recently, I have been inspired by a particular podcast – “The Cultivating Place,” hosted by Jennifer Jewell (cultivatingplace.com). According to North State Public radio, this show explores “conversations with natural history and the human impulse to garden. Through interviews with an amazing array of artisans, Jennifer illustrates the many ways in which gardens and gardening are integral to our natural and cultural literacy. It celebrates how these interconnections support the places we cultivate, how they nourish our bodies and feed our spirits.”

Perhaps my sentimental thoughts are aroused because I am entering a new phase in my life (I turn 65 next month) or perhaps because my grandbabies have allowed me to enjoy nature through their innocent excitement, but I increasingly realize the emotional support my gardens provide.  

Recently I had an “ah ha” moment that added to my understanding what a strong bond a gardening community can have on its individual members. This particularly hit home, when I attended a birthday party for a grand plant lady, who has devoted her life to the enrichment of the earth and has lovingly nurtured many local gardeners. My friend has been struggling with an extended illness, and at her greatest time of need, she has been constantly surrounded by her gardening protégées. They are providing her with the nourishment, love, and the support she desperately needs. “Blessed be the garden ties that bind us.” 

So I challenge each of you this growing season to take time to reconnect with your outdoor spaces without having a mission or job that must be accomplished. Spend time giving back to your garden. I am starting with 15 minutes a day. After which I intend to find where I laid down those darn clippers!

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