Why do I garden?

So here’s the deal, I’m turning 40 within the next 6 months and like many before me, I’m in self examination mode.

By no means are we talking midlife crisis or anything like that. I’ll drive my ‘ 98 Honda Civic into the ground, so no need for a new sports car. I’ll never bungee jump or skydive because yours truly is deathly afraid of heights. It’s not that at all.

I like to think of it more as a self assessment. Am I happy in my current job? Sure. Are my children healthy and thriving? Absolutely. Am I one of the lucky ones who has a stable marriage? Beyond that and more. She has been my best friend since we met in 1990 and that ain’t changing any time soon.

Which leads me to gardening.

It has become larger than life for me the past two years and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon. It is always on my mind and I often wonder if it could ever become a career. Or do I love it as much as I do because it is NOT my career? Hmmm … that one may require a therapist’s chair.

So why do I love gardening so much? For the most part, it wasn’t anything I showed an interest in at a young age. I never pursued any education in the field of horticulture. So why the plant lust?

I’ve spent the past few days really thinking this one through and here is what I came up with (in no particular order):

  • The puzzleAs much as I enjoy an individual plant and it’s attributes, I am not a plant geek. I am more fascinated by how plants play off of each other. I can move plants around with the best of them, always in search of the perfect combination. Do I know that there is no “perfect”? Of course, but is sure is fun as hell to try.


  • Plants/gardens evolvingNot only year by year and season by season, but really week by week. I, for the most part, could give a rat’s ass about interior design. Once you finish a room, it’s done and it becomes stale quickly (unless you enjoy painting annually). But outdoors, you get to enjoy the spring blooms, followed by the summer blooms and the quick ascension of the ornamental grasses. Before you know it, it’s fall foliage time and then the coneflowers and grasses are gracefully covered in snow. Then it is spring again and the perennials have doubled in size and that deciduous shrub is blooming better than it ever has before. It is never dull.
  • I am a train wreck indoorsThere is definitely a psychological side to this one. I am the opposite of a handy man. Thank god I have a very handy brother in law and father in law. They have saved me many times over. Outside in the garden is where I reign supreme and I am the “go to guy”.
  • My gardening passion as mystery – Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis have no idea that I am a lover of all things plants. I have a lot of fun throwing in an educational tidbit when people least expect it. And if they ever discover this blog, it is supremely entertaining.  
  • The attraction of wildlife – As my gardens have matured and I’ve added more and more native plants, the birds, bees and butterflies have shown up in droves. I feel like I’ve created my own sanctuary/ecosystem where they can all coexist without disruption. Shit, I even like having the deer around.

  • The solitude – There is nowhere else I can go and completely tune out all else life has to offer. I get lost amongst the greenery and blooms and creatures. A form of meditation if you will. Except it smells a lot better, I enjoy getting numerous blisters and love the pain in my calves when all is said and done. 

Deep down, I do believe my future life/career involves gardening/horticulture/design in some aspect.

There, I said it. Now hopefully Oprah is right and the universe will hear me and respond.





20 thoughts on “Why do I garden?

  1. Heather

    You can’t install half of the crown molding and expect that it will propagate itself while you’re not looking. But plants flourish while you ignore them. You’re in good company.

  2. Laurrie

    Well said. Very well said. You hit on all the reasons I love gardening, especially the observations about fitting puzzle pieces together and finding interior design too static. And the solitude, and . . . all of it!

  3. Marcia

    Go for it, John. I think it’s in your destiny if you’ve given it this much thought. There’s always the community college if you need to get credentials before making the dive.

  4. Patty

    John, it matters not why you garden. All that matters is that you DO ! Don’t question it. And as for the time leading up to turning 40…I did the same…questioning everything. But you know what ? The day after my birth day all that disappeared. It was weird. After all…I was only one day older than the day before my birthday. 40 wasn’t so scary after all. Now I’m 51 and it’s super ! Hang in there !

  5. HolleyGarden

    I agree with all of those. I was just thinking how wonderful nature is, redecorating every season. I’ve always joked that my dream job would be to work at my local garden center! But, I’m afraid all my paycheck would be gone before the groceries got bought!

  6. That Bloomin' Garden

    Love your post! I can totally relate. People often say I am a slave to my garden but it’s where I find solitude. It’s a place to dream and envision the next step of beautification. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  7. Diane Writes

    Hello John! Advance happy birthday! I love gardens but I was never been into gardening 🙂 I may not always comment, but I always enjoy and appreciate whatever pieces of information and experiences you share in your blog. Wishing you more years of happy and meaningful gardening!

  8. scottweberpdx

    I have to admit, I saw this post a week or so ago…and have been pondering these same question. In addition, I had a friend (who is working on some sort of garden-related project) ask me the same question. I have to honestly admit…I’ve never asked myself WHY I garden…it never even occurred to me to question it. Perhaps its one of those things that some of us are just geared toward. Like you, I’m fascinated by how plants interact and evolve together…even more than “design”, I’m fascinated by how they live and grow together. For some reason, I love observing the passage of the seasons…maybe I feel more in tune with nature…who knows…but I find it fascinating…that ebb and flow in the garden. A big part, as well, is the desire to make something that is beautiful…that doesn’t have to be explained…that is free of pretentiousness…that by simply BEING is a good thing.

  9. Mary

    In my opinion, I feel you are on the verge of a spiritual awakening….and Oprah has nothing to do with it. Find a Bible or Google Genesis 1:29 “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth.” You are merely discovering God’s gift to you and I am sure He is simply delighted that you are so excited about His creation. Get to know the real MASTER GARDENER…Jesus Christ. I personally enjoy your blog and photos are great.

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