A few weeks back, just as we were really beginning to enter into the gardening season, I asked my fellow Master Gardeners if this year, a year like we’ve never experienced, was going to be different in terms of how gardening would help them navigate through these unusual times.  After reading through some of their comments, I realized gardening is the common thread that will sustain them through the next many months.  The following is a brief overview of what these Master Gardeners shared with me.  I’m sure there is something here that each of us can identify with.

Over all everyone felt more connected with to their gardens this year.  During clean up and then planting time, they experienced a more intense sense of peace and wellbeing as well as the benefits of staying in shape and sleeping better.  Then there’s the instant gratification found when you create a garden or enhance an existing one.  Everyone expressed an appreciation for having more time to spend working in or enjoying their gardens this year.  Whether it’s because they are commuting less, working from home, or just slicing out more time for this activity, they all agree that as a stress reducer, gardening is a gift.  Even weeding gives them a sense of satisfaction and completion and every minute spent working the soil makes us more aware of the nature surrounding us.  We hear the wind blow, the different bird song, a bird rustling in the leaves for bugs, and the bees…hopefully lots of bees.

One participant has experienced several deaths in the family in a short period of time and she says “my plants have been my saving grace. It’s been my spiritual, emotional, and physical savior.”  Interestingly, they also mentioned that even though the garden chores they are doing this year are basically what they’ve always done, it’s taken on a new meaning and appreciation. 

So whether your garden focus is growing vegetables, perennials, trees, shrubs, annuals or houseplants, there is definitely something different this year.   Gardening is having more of an impact because by focusing more on it, we get a break from the uncertainty and stress of what all of us are currently experiencing.  And as one person put it “my goodness, what would we have done if this epidemic had happened in the dead of winter…I can’t imagine because right now, my gardens are keeping me sane.”   So Social Distance to your hearts content while working and playing “in the dirt.”

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