In almost every garden, the land is made better and so is the gardener.Robert Rodale
When I reflect on the past few years of growing a rose garden, I often wonder, after a day of being scratched by rose thorns, bitten by mosquitoes and exhausted by the heat, why it is I love it so much?
Being outside in the elements, all day aching from digging, pruning, staking, and deadheading blooms, is a far cry from a pleasant pastime sometimes. Although, what I have found in nurturing a rose garden is that the experience, surprisingly, does far more for me than I had anticipated.
I have always thrived on hard work, having inherited the trait from my parents, so I don’t find it difficult to plunge into a project with determination and continue quite passionately until completion. I admit I don’t like the rose prickles, pests, and problems that a rose grower has to deal with. The constant watering, pruning, mulching and nurturing them through our Australian hot, dry summer and cold winter can take its toll. All these factors aside, to design a garden, prepare and improve the soil, and tend to the rose plants, one does quite naturally learn greater skills and virtues—for example, more patience, hope, humility, determination and optimism.
The wonderment one feels as the garden flourishes after all the hard work is so uplifting. I don’t think anyone actually gardens to feel this way but it is an outcome over and above the obvious results of engaging in a healthy outdoor activity and the enjoyment of a sense of accomplishment. As well as the rewards of exercise we also gain the fruits of our labours in beautiful roses, or flowers, herbs and vegetables dependant on what we choose to grow in our gardens.
Patience is the first skill developed when gardening as anyone who plants seeds, bulbs or bare root -roses will tell you. The other skill gardeners seem to have in spades is the aspect of Vision. Gardeners are visionaries and are always looking towards the future with optimistic eyes expecting next year to be more successful.
To effectively make the right plant choices, design and implement all of the stages of preparing a garden through the all seasons will also develop foresight, reverence and gratitude as well.
Consider the development of tenacity and self-discipline and, on the flip side, trust, responsibility, and purposefulness. It seems to get out, and garden shapes us, although an unrelated outcome builds a wealth of attributes and virtues. Some are harder to take on than others, like acceptance – when the birds have eaten the seedlings, the wallabies chewed off every green leaf on a rose bush, or the frost has wiped out your favourite patio plants.
One of the joys of gardening too is letting your imagination go and the opportunity to be creative. Gardener have vision, understanding and develop confidence as the results of ideas come to fruition.
On the other hand, we can also use gardening as a stress release for pent up feelings of anxiety, frustration and worry. There are many destructive tasks to do in the garden that can be very therapeutic. Hedges to trim, roses to prune, weeds to yank out and loads of cutting and hacking of overgrown plants.
After all the skills developed, virtues gained, and stress released, know you are all the better for it, so time to stop and smell the roses, take a break and happily contemplate the cycle of renewal and growth in the garden.
Title quote by Audrey Hepburn
Header Image Di Baker Dom Perignon Private Garden in Epernay at Moet Chandon
All otherimages by Di Baker in the ‘Rose Garden of Alhambra Palace Spain’
All content by Di Baker 2019 All Rights reserved