3 Reasons Gardening Is an Act of Love

Spend some time outside with Mother Earth

When was the last time you put your arms around your mother and told her you loved her? Although she may be the one getting the hug, it’s the giver who gets the real benefits!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to tell Mom how much she means to you. But Mother’s Day also offers a personal time to embrace the Earth as our Mother — and there is no more intimate way to do this than through gardening.
As a personal practice, gardening teaches us to love life in all its forms … in ourselves, in our relationships with the people around us and in our connection with the planet entrusted to our care. It is a love that reverberates through the planet to benefit us all.

1.    Learning to love the life in you.

Gardening is a meaningful way to cultivate self-love. Like meditation, gardening is a time to be still and listen, not just to the sound of the outdoors, but to your inner voice. Gardening slows you down, stops you in your tracks and sets you down on the Earth for a while. In gardening you share your energy with the Earth through the tenderness of your touch, and she meets you there. There is no more generous partner for a loving relationship than the Earth herself. She is waiting for you.
The benefits of getting your hands dirty with Nature’s soil are so notable that today an entire clinical field is developing around it. Horticultural Therapy uses plants and planting to help people adjust to difficult and traumatic experiences; it has been credited with improving all aspects of their lives — social, educational, psychological and physical. It is being successfully used with veterans and with victims of natural disasters, as well as in prisons, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
We have a lot to learn at our Mother’s knee, things our ancestors knew first-hand. What appears to us as a new concept has been practiced for centuries by the first nations who loved the land as sacred. According to Chief Luther Standing Bear of the Teton Sioux, “The Lakota was a true naturalist — a lover of Nature. He loved the Earth and all things of the Earth, and the attraction grew with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.”

2.    Letting love flow through you to others.

A garden is a living canvas for creative collaboration. From a single herb on your kitchen counter to global reforestation programs, gardening brings you together with others. Our planet’s precious soil nourishes the roots of people as well as plants.
3 ways to turn gardening into the perfect bonding experience:
  1. Garden with your partner or spouse. There’s nothing more relaxing, replenishing and rewarding than an afternoon in the garden. Gardening is a different kind of intimacy — shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than face-to-face — and a welcome change from another boring Saturday afternoon of TV. You and your partner spend real time together while creating something of beauty and value for the Earth. You can even plant romance in your garden by placing things there with special meaning to the two of you. 
  2. Garden with children. Children are directly nourished in a garden. In a world where our connection with the source of things can be hard to find, children learn about who they are through their attachments to growing things. Gardening helps them fall in love with Mother Earth, and teaches them to make better food choices. And with composting, they even learn how Nature recycles and reuses her own wastes.
  3. Garden with neighbors and friends. Community gardens are a growing trend, even in major cities, allowing people to share a piece of land as well as its produce. Whether created in your own neighborhood for socializing, or in other neighborhoods as social outreach, community gardens grow personal pride and community spirit as well as fruits and veggies.

3.    Loving Mother Earth with enduring actions.

Gardening is a beautiful way to give something back. Whether you’re sprucing up your own neighborhood or reaching out to the world at large, by investing yourself in Mother Nature you leave beauty (not carbon) as your footprint.
  • Planting seeds. Organic gardening is one of the greatest gifts you can give the Earth. Every organic garden in every yard adds to the health, structure and texture of the soil of that neighborhood; it produces more and healthier plants on each plot of land; and it eliminates the toxic effects of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. When you add composting to your routine, you also convert your own household waste into the stuff Nature finds delicious.
  • Planting trees is the next step in the gardening chain. Of course the place to begin is at home, by adding a tree to your garden. Fast- or slow-growing, a tree will live on long after you to give character to the neighborhood, clean the air and provide shade for children on hot summer days for years to come. Arbor Day is coming up too, on April 29. Visit ArborDay.org for a state-by-state listing of ways to volunteer.
  • Planting forests. Gaiam is pleased to be a partner in The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program. Go Zero is a nationally acclaimed charity that plants trees, protects landscapes and works with communities to help offset your carbon footprint. You can offset the carbon impact of every Gaiam order with a small contribution of $2, 100 percent of which goes to the Fund.

Grow your garden, grow in love

Ready to dig in the dirt and start feeling the love? Here are some ways to get started:
  • Window boxes and balconies are a wonderful place to start. Not only can you add color with a mix of flowers (geraniums are the heartiest), you can also grow a very flavorful herb garden, with rosemary, parsley, oregano, lavender, mint and more. Choose the sunny side of your home for the best results.
  • Your own back (or front) yard can enrich the neighborhood with biodiversity. The original “cottage style” garden mixed flowers and herbs in with vegetables; and it still has many benefits. Bees, the little pollinators, love high-nectar flowers. And you can use herbs like dill and coriander to woo friendly insects (ladybugs and ground beetles, for example) as protectors against their less-agreeable cousins. But the biggest winner is you: fresh-from-the-earth edibles, zero carbon impact … and they’re free!
  • Neighborhood gardens make it easier and more affordable to grow a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try having each gardener focus on a few specific plants for the best results. You can also use these creative collaborations to help restore natural areas or preserve native plant varieties. To learn more, check out the American Community Gardening Association

So spend time on May 13, with your Mother an. Sit down with a single plant. Add some Mozart and a cup of tea, and have a friendly conversation. Bring Mother Earth the gift of yourself. Ask what you can do for her. She will reward you abundantly.

“I was born in Nature’s wide domain! The trees were all that sheltered my infant limbs, the blue heavens all that covered me. I am one of Nature’s children.”

                                                       – George Copway (Kahgegagahbowh), Ojibwe


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