Each time you come home with a new plant and give it a good home in your ground you perform an act of faith for a better future. When you move a struggling perennial from here to there, likewise. In your basement late in winter, you plant tomato seeds with eager anticipation of many delicious fruits hot from the vine in July. Even as we enter into our fall cleanup, gardeners work with confidence in the promise of next year’s season of beauty and abundance. Such expectations for new and better are a part of every gardening decision. They’re part of every gardening motion.
As much as gardens provide bounty, they also yield hope, and we need hope for our spirits as much as we need nutrition for the body. Each new season, every emerging bud, any packet of seeds—these are vessels of hope. Anticipation of the day a cherry will burst into bloom with every petal seemingly amplifying the sun’s light fortifies your will to prove more determined and persistent than winter itself.
Even the old man from the proverb “who plants a tree under whose shade he will not sit” does so envisioning a future of summer days when today’s children—all grown up—will. With their children. And then they with theirs. As he finishes the job, he might imagine folks from the neighborhood a century hence marveling at his sapling’s size and conjecturing its age. Maybe one or two might wonder about who planted it, and, just as important, why.
It should come as no surprise, then, that in stressful times people have historically turned to gardens. Apart from any practical considerations, the therapy is so primal and so rich. To be outside, to touch the earth, breathe fresh air and feel the sun’s warmth on the back of the neck is the sweetest reset. Creating something of beauty and abundance is a profoundly positive act of defiance in the face of all that is wrong.
The garden speeds through the season with such determination. Spring’s emerging shoots yield quickly to a succession of dazzling flowers, which attract comically hardworking bees, whose efforts give us fruits. Fruits bring their own beauty, sustenance for us and for wildlife, and seeds. Seeds are perhaps the most precious gift. Vessels of new life, they are small but mighty assurance that a new day will come, a better season, and the cycle will continue.
Busy, modern living removes us from such essential connections, but every minute one devotes to the magic of growing God’s green plants from Mother Nature’s sweet earth renews our spirit. Best of all, it clears your head as you do it. Noisy thoughts stagger off. Worries wither. Fear is forgotten. There is no room in your mind for these things while you’re planting rows of corn, or finding just the right spot for a new hibiscus, or carefully determining the exact right depth to plant that sapling oak.