I have long thought that just as a painter creates art on a canvas so a gardener creates art in a garden.
My canvases are my garden areas. I plan them, till the soil, plant and nurture those plants to create a colourful or tasty display to please the senses. And that, is a superior advantage of gardens.
You see, a painting can be a feast for the eyes. Sometimes, you can touch a painting to feel the brush strokes or the features made with a palette knife. And, if it is good art it will evoke an emotion (positive or negative.) But, a painting does not activate your sense of smell or cue your listening skills or stimulate your taste buds like a garden can.
By virtue of stimulating all 5 senses a garden can also invoke memories.
The scent of lavender always reminds me of my grandmother’s dresser drawers. She was a big fan of using lavender sachets in drawers to keep them and the clothes residing there smelling fresh and clean.
Watching and listening to the bees in my pollinating garden has me visualizing a visit to a family friend’s small apiary. It was quite amazing to watch the bees deposit the pollen they had collected. And even more amazing to me knowing that their hard work would soon become sweet honey.
The sound of the water fountain and water fall in my little backyard pond have me reminiscing of family picnics by a local stream that meandered through a small valley not far from where we live.
Digging and turning the soil in preparation for planting makes me smile at a long-ago memory when I was about 5 years old. The neighbouring teens took me along with them to a forest around the corner. They were armed with garden shovels and pails and I brought along my plastic sand shovel and pail. They were in pursuit of trilliums as was I. Little did I know that:
- it was illegal to remove trilliums form their local habitat; and
- a plastic shovel doesn’t work too well in digging up flowers in a wooded area.
I was thrilled that one of the teens came to my rescue and dug up a trillium for me. I walked home beaming about the surprise I would soon present to my mother.
And a surprise it was! I remember her facial expression being not one of pleasure as I was anticipating. With an intake of breath and then an expulsion of that breath she explained that I wasn’t supposed to dig up that flower because it was the province’s official flower.) Nonetheless I later noticed she had planted it in a remote corner of the garden.)
Canada’s growing season is not the longest, but harvest time in the vegetable garden can happen all season long. Lettuce, herbs and berries are the first to be harvested in my small garden followed soon after by tomatoes and squashes. Corn is one of the last to be harvested and although it is so tasty being picked and then cooked on the same day, I have to say my favourite are potatoes. From earth to table in less than an hour there is nothing quite like the taste of boiled new potatoes slathered with butter!
Each time I eat some new potatoes from the garden I remember that my parents once grew them too. Their vegetable garden was enclosed by a wooden fence my dad built. I think my mom was the one who painted it green and white. Those memories are entrenched but so is the taste of those new potatoes. I know it was way back then my love affair with creamy new potatoes fresh from the garden began.
Gardening does indeed evoke many memories and stimulates my senses. And for me, spending an hour working in my gardens or simply admiring what is growing puts me in my happy place.