I have to confess that I believe “gardeners are special”. Gardening, like golf (another of my interests) can be enjoyed as a solitary or group endeavor. It is done in pleasant surroundings, is peaceful and contemplative, and can be done for a few minutes or for hours. Are you thinking work? Yes, it is work; it can be very little work or quite a lot of work. It can be very physical or almost effortless.
My personal definition of gardening is very broad. I think that gardening is any activity associated with the growing of and enjoying plants. This can be as little as watering a plant purchased at a store or received from a friend or it can be as extensive as planning and installing an extensive landscape plan covering several acres. It can be growing a tomato plant in a bucket or several hundred or more square feet of fruits and vegetables that feed your family all year long. (And as a separate note, now is the time to begin fall veggie gardening.)
The amount and type of gardening that one does can vary based upon interest, space, health, money, and other factors. The important thing is to garden. Nurture a small houseplant. Plant a container or small flower garden. Plant a decorative tree or shrub. Notice I say “a”. One does not have to plant a forest to enjoy trees, nor does one have to plant a large flowerbed to enjoy flowers. Gardening can be done on acres of soil or with quarts of soilless mix in a small container.
There are many reasons for gardening: the pleasure of nurturing things; the amazement of watching a tiny seed sprout and develop into a plant of a few inches or 50 feet tall; positively contributing to the environment; love of home-grown food and/or the inability to purchase something wanted for cooking; to attract wildlife; as an artistic outlet; to heal physically, emotionally, or spiritually; and many other reasons.
I once attended a lecture by a professor with the school of architecture at the University of Texas who is a practicing architect. He said that the more he works with architecture, the more complicated it gets. He contrasted architecture with art and the discussion boiled down to the eye of the beholder. I see many similarities with gardening. Much is in the eye of the beholder.
Some of the things I like, you won’t and vice versa. But there is great diversity in gardening. It can be very complicated or very simple. It is artistic as well as architectural. It is as much as you want it to be or as little. It is creative. It changes over time. What gardening is to each person is what they want it to be. Whether done in a dish on a tabletop or on several acres, whether by growing fruits and vegetables or flowers, trees, and other ornamentals, the important thing is to garden … and to enjoy it.
This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Garden guy column: Why choose gardening as an activity