Outside the window, things are looking considerably brighter than they did just a month ago. The sun is starting to shine brighter; birds are singing; flowers are blooming; and trees have begun to look markedly greener. Spring, it seems, has finally sprung.
If one were to arrange a national gardening week, then now seems a perfectly sensible time in which to do so. Since its inception four years ago by the Royal Horticultural Society, National Gardening Week has enjoyed success in persuading the nation’s would-be gardeners to finally get out and quite literally, get their hands dirty.
A multitude of events will be taking place throughout the country, at which the public will be invited to dig up allotments, wander through orchards and absorb lectures from experts in gardening. The RHS, naturally, are keen that these events be as well-attended as possible, so that the nation may rediscover its love of all things horticultural.
Of course, while some will require scant invitation before picking up a trowel and setting out into the garden, others will not be quite so easily persuaded. For the latter category, the reasons behind this national obsession are not quite so clear.What, precisely, is so wonderful about prostrating oneself in the dirt, working one’s hands uprooting plants and then replacing them with other plants? In short: why is gardening so great?
The first and best reason to take gardening more seriously is that it is, in the opinion of many different kinds of peoole, good fun. Not everyone considers it this way however. Perhaps gardening requires a certain sort of personality – one which can draw satisfaction from hard work and who can admire the fruit of their labours. Or perhaps those who have yet to take up the hobby just need to be persuaded to give it a try first. These people must therefore be given other reasons to take up the art. Fortunately, there are many such reasons to hand.
Gardeners, it is often claimed, are healthier and happier than the rest of us. Gardening is good for you, lots of fresh air and exercise doing something you love!
Many of us could benefit from some additional exercise. Manual labour, almost by definition, promotes this. It has long been established that regular exercise – even very light exercise – can help fight off all manner of common illnesses, from heart disease to diabetes. Gardening, therefore, will keep you healthy. As a side benefit, you will also end up with a much improved garden to unwind in after your exertions. Are there any other forms of exercise which confer such rewards?
The health benefits are not only physical. Maintaining a garden is good for your concentration and mental wellbeing. It can provide effective relief from stress; in this sense, its benefits closely mirror those of meditation and T’ai Chi.
If you concern your thoughts solely with the hedgerow you’re manicuring, then it follows that you won’t worry about the stresses of work and family life.This is a piece of folk wisdom which has been long-appreciated by gardeners, but it now has some more substantive research behind it. Your garden will provide you with sanctuary from the outside world, but so too will the act of gardening itself.
If adequate exercise is one necessary component of overall good health, then another, equally vital component is adequate nutrition. It is often said that some of the most satisfying meals are those you cook for yourself. If this is true – and we think it is – then it follows, surely, that those you both cook and grow for yourself are more satisfying still. A well-maintained garden allows this: you can keep a vegetable patch which will provide you with home-grown produce throughout the year and you won’t have to worry about unknown additives contaminating your food.
Bizarrely, perhaps the least appreciated benefit of gardening is its end result: a well-maintained garden. A well-maintained garden is a thing of great aesthetic beauty, from which great pleasure can be derived. After a hard day spent weeding, or planting rows of flowers, one can unwind in the garden, sit back and take in its greenery – and perhaps even enjoy food grown inside it.
There are few more rewarding ways to spend a summer weekend. So why not take up the hobby this week to give it a try?