What is it about gardening that brings such a sense of peace, calm, and accomplishment? In the midst of all the daily stress and pressure that we all live with, there truly does seem to be something about getting outside and digging in the dirt that just makes me happy! Not only do I enjoy the physical work of gardening (except when it finally gets to be 90 degrees out there, then I decide it’s time for an indoor activity and we’ll wait until the sun goes down again!), but seeing the results of raking, digging, planting, weeding, and generally cleaning up our yard and garden has a way of making me feel like I’ve really accomplished something in a day.
And it brings back a lot of fun childhood memories, too! Even though the house where I grew up was quite small and very simple, and the yard was mostly dirt and stones with an overgrown wooded area behind us, my mom always managed to keep on side of our yard filled with flowers every spring and summer. There was an area on the edge of the yard that dropped down about 8 inches to the road that ran in front of our house where she had collected rocks from the woods and created a rock garden. Every spring she would find flowers in the woods and plant a few in between the rocks, and I have no idea where she got them, but she also had a few ground cover perennials that came back every year to fill in around the rocks.
(Here’s a great idea for repurposing some of the “old junk” that you might have stashed in the back of your shed or garage!)
That small side yard was the only place where grass grew (actually it was probably just weeds, but because they were green, she was happy!) and I remember an old push mower with the rather rusty blades and wheels, with an faded wooden handle that she would use to mow here little corner of a “garden” every week. She must have been given some perennials from a neighbor or a friend, because she managed to have beautiful flowers blooming all along that side of the house, and she even planted a few flowers along the really short sidewalk from our front door out to the road. At the end of that little sidewalk was our mailbox, and she had flowers planted all around the base.
But then, if you walked to the far side of our little cottage (it really was a summer lake cottage that was intended only to be used in the summer, but we lived there year ’round. It got pretty cold in the winter!), that was the end of her magical touch on our yard of dirt and stones. She worked away from home from early in the morning until evening, so in the summer time she would fix supper and then putter around out in the yard for a couple of hours before bed time. I guess she just didn’t have enough time to battle all that gravel and dirt so she was happy with the two sides that were pretty. Or was she? I guess I’ll never know, because she always seemed to enjoy the beauty in the areas where she planted flowers, weeded, raked, and mowed.
(This is a great way to add some colorful blooms around your front door using containers!)
While my mama was busy making those small areas of our yards as pretty as she could with limited time, money, and resources, I was busy playing in the dirt and stones, old leaves from last autumn, and piles of brush behind the garage. And when it rained, well, that was (of course!) the best time of all! I would spend hours making Mud Pies in the sloppy mess in our back yard where we had an old burn barrel, and I would take my pies back into the woods to my little “fort” where I had created a peaceful, quiet little world all my own. Among the fallen trees and branches, rotting tree stumps, tangle of vines and branches, and in the shade of the huge old trees that leaned precariously to one side or the other, I would play for all day. Even in the rain, especially if I was hidden far enough back under the leafy canopy of my little world. I didn’t mind the dirt and mud at all!
(So even if you don’t have a gorgeous lawn, you can still be creative with a variety of repurposed items you can find in your local thrift store)
I suppose since I loved playing outside in the yard, swinging on an old tire swing that my dad had created by nailing a great big board across between two huge, old trees and tying a rope and an old tire onto it, and wandering through the woods as a child . . . perhaps that is why I still love digging in the dirt. I love to get outside as soon as I possibly can on a spring day and rake up all of the leaves that blew into our yard over the winter, clean out the flower beds, and see those tiny green shoots begin to peek through the black dirt. I love to plant flowers in colorful planters and pretty flower pots, and in the flower beds we have all around our house. When it gets into the warmer months, I will often get up really early so I can work out in the flower beds before it gets too hot.
(This is probably the way my mama wanted our back yard to look . . . but it didn’t! I’m hoping one day to create this kind of peaceful garden setting in our yard)
We have so many ideas for ways we want to make our yard and garden pretty this year! We managed to accomplish quite a few projects last summer, but there are still lots of things we are planning for this spring. We have some painting we want to do, and our deck is really in need of being resurfaced. There is a flower bed in the front of our house that was quite overgrown when we moved in and I’ve been making progress on cleaning that area up for the past two summers. But there is still more work to do, and I am ready to get out and get started! Here are a few images that are my creative inspiration this week as I look forward to getting busy in my garden . . . . for me, gardening truly is a gentle gift for my soul.
(We don’t have a front porch, but we have a HUGE deck which is beautiful – but I’m hoping to figure out a way to add some shade to make it feel more cozy . . . like this!)