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Gardening Therapy: Plus, You Get Strawberries.

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“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do. Plus, you get strawberries.” —Rob Finley, Designer, Gardener and Collector

I grew up on a farm in Southwestern Wisconsin. I’ll admit that yes, on occasion, the cows did get out. I can still replay my grandmother darting out of the kitchen door, hands waving and slippers half on. “Not in my garden!” she’d yell.

Like my grandmother, many people spend their summer planting, digging, weeding, watering, watching and harvesting their gardens. The results? Much more than just food and flowers. The therapeutic effects of gardening are helping people cope through illness, tough decisions, stress and more.

For instance: Northern Minnesota resident Beth Blocker has been a caretaker her whole life, both professionally as a nursing assistant and now as full-time family caregiver. For her, gardening has always been a source of comfort. “When the aches of life are at work on me, the solitude inside my garden is healing.” she says. “I have gone to the garden more times than I can count to ease the worries or hurt I was experiencing.”

Beth’s affection for “playing in the weeds,” as she says, started at a young age. Both of her grandparents were gardeners. She often watched and helped them reap the harvest of the vegetable garden or walked with Grandma Bessie as she admired her blooming flowers. “I was hooked!” Beth remembered.

The gardening zen starts with the understanding of the hard work and physical labor required. “You work to keep plants healthy for harvest or the joy of seeing the jars of canned goods or the beautiful blooms in the flower beds,” Beth says. “It’s a reminder that there is something or someone much bigger than any problems I think I have. Any inner turmoil I’m experiencing is usually replaced with peace.”

Starting a vegetable garden for the first time? Planting flower pots or herbs in the kitchen window? Backyard flower garden is in bloom? Share your story and images in the comments section below.

About the Author:

Katrina Wollet is a freelance storyteller. If she isn’t in her studio, she is probably in the woods, lost near downtown Minneapolis, or looking for her glasses. Every fall she goes straight from sandals to boots, and every spring she does the reverse.

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3 Replies

  • By Brock

    Wonderful post! My mom had me pulling weeds at a young age, which is probably the most excruciating job you can give a preteen boy. But after the torture of the task wore out, I grew to really value and appreciate this small little act of giving life to something tiny and delicate, nurturing it through the seasons. To this day, I only ever feel content when I’m surrounded by my plants, constantly reminding me that there’s always some small beauty in life, no matter the weather.

  • By Marla

    Yes, my sister, Beth, has a special touch when in her flower garden! And her special touch carries over to helping others with their life challenges. I am blessed to have her as my sister.

  • By gabriela muresan

    Yes, I have found it to be the best remedy for me too. I am trying every morning, when it is not too hot, to go outside and look at the plants, talk to them in their language, asking them what they might need. It is so beautiful to see them striving, they inspire me in my healing.