Having no real talent for growing plants of any kind and no real artistic eye, gardening is probably one of the last topics I ever thought I’d be writing about. But I have come to realize that the heralded green thumb does not really play a part in gardening; like most successful endeavors, this pastime consists of a lot of hard work. Likewise, there’s no need to strive to create a perfect garden. I once read that, as a backyard gardener, I should just concentrate on pleasing myself and that’s exactly what I do. Much trial and error is involved in getting to know your type of soil, the location of your plot in relation to the sun, and the types of plants most likely to flourish there.
Although I believe in getting exercise every day, I’m not one for hitting the gym, especially in the warm weather months. Gardening, with all of its weeding, digging, tilling, lugging bags of supplies, and spreading of mulch, proves to be quite a workout. In fact, you can burn over 100 calories in only a half-hour of work in the garden. The lifting, bending, pulling, and throwing work nearly every part of the body. Sure you get an occasional bruise, scratch, mosquito bite, or sore muscle, yet overall it’s a harmless hobby which brings much satisfaction. Getting your hands dirty doing manual work feels very good and it's lovely sitting back, taking a break, listening to the birds, and watching butterflies.
It is also quite gratifying to see the work you’ve done clearing the beds and particularly from seeing your plantings thrive. Certain plants, like hostas and the low-spreader known as snow-on-the-mountain, are easy to grow; the same is true for herbs such as chives (which have beautiful, large lavender blossoms in the spring) and mint. The warning you always hear about mint having the ability to take over the garden is true, however, so it's preferable to plant it in a clay pot. I also have containers with basil, rosemary, thyme, and parsley on the deck—with easy access to the kitchen. My focus is primarily on growing flowers; this year my list of annuals and perennials includes wonderful Sonic Magic pink New Guinea impatiens, blue trailing bellflowers, yellow, orange, and red lilies, pink and purple petunias, and puffy blue aegeratum.
Next year I might even try my hand at vegetable gardening, following First Lady Michelle Obama's example on the White House lawn. Or, who knows, maybe I'll start with a few containers of tomatoes this summer.