So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them.
— Genesis 1:27
I’m happiest when I’m down on my sweaty hands and knees, with a dirt moustache . . . gardening.
There’s no other place where the mysteries of life unfold right before your eyes. Wonders come out of nowhere, nourish body and soul, and then go away. You just have to trust that they’ll come back around next year.
How does that tiny little seed know when it’s time to sprout and produce a plant that grows over our heads?
Look at those long, elegant stamens on that tulip!
That ladybug looks just like my Mini Cooper!
Smell that tube-rose – heavenly.
Taste this Better Boy tomato – so fresh, it’s still warm from the sun.
I find so much joy in gardening. It’s more engaging than a movie, more educational than a book, more dramatic than a play. I’ve always done my best thinking on my knees. Gardening is a major opportunity for solitude, getting some perspective, soaking up some rays, breathing in the good, fresh air.
It is wonderful to be able to share bouquets and veggies with my family and friends. I love the taste of summer’s homemade fiery salsa, canned, so that it can be opened as a hot surprise in the doldrums of the long, cold winter.
Yes, gardening has its solemn and sad moments, too. Inevitably, in the fall, after the harvest is done, the good stuff in the garden goes away. What’s left is gray and black, drab and dead-looking for months.
But then, poof! Surprise! One day, green shoots reappear. And I smile. There soon will be an explosion of color and life and fun, and I can be a part of it. Garden Time is back!
Over the years, besides all the lessons and fun that I’ve harvested from my favorite hobby, I’ve learned that the real blessings come from teaching children about gardening. It’s fun to teach new human life about life in the garden. You hope they make the connection, that we’re all “planted” here to be beautiful and make a difference!
Here’s my favorite story about gardening with children:
We were planting flowers with our daughters’ preschool friends. We had sent a note home asking each family to take their child to the garden center as a mini-learning excursion. They were to choose a four-pack of any annual flower that they liked. Each family would donate the flowers to the preschool and we would help their child plant them.
That way, we got a huge variety of colors, shapes and sizes to beautify the preschool entry and use in future preschool lessons. Each child got a hands-on gardening lesson and could watch his or her flowers grow and develop for months.
Well, some kids apparently didn’t get to choose what flower to bring. Here came a macho little 4-year-old boy in a baseball shirt. He was holding his four-pack out at arm’s length, with a squint of apparent disgust. Why?
Because they were pink begonias. PINK!
He was obviously conflicted. There had to be some way to make this color acceptable to the 4-year-old male psyche.
Before I could speak, he informed me:
“These are BATMAN PINK.”
His eyes seared into mine to make sure I realized that these were not just some kind of girly-girl pink. But MANLY pink. Got it? Totally guy-ish pink.
I nodded submissively. Gee, they look like powerful growers, too! Very strong! Very tough flowers!
He smiled in relief, puffed out his chest, and stalked away.
That was more than 25 years ago. I still call pink begonias “Batman Pink.” What choice do I have?
That’s the thing about gardening, especially with kids: the fun, surprises and delight keep on growing and blossoming in your heart . . . which, as you recall, is also a beautiful shade of Batman Pink. †
By Susan Darst Williams | www.RadiantBeams.org | House & Garden | © 2020