Why Gardening?

“What a huge garden! So much work!” That is often the spontaneous reaction of people who see my garden for the first time. Actually with about 1000 square metres you cannot really call it huge, but by German standards it is where most plots don’t exceed 600 square metres. Still, I don’t associate gardening with work — for me it is leisure; and I often find myself justifying my desire to dig up the soil instead of doing boring paper work in my study.

Admittedly, I’ve got help — impersonated by my husband, sometimes by our son — who strangely enjoy those chores that I loathe, such as mowing the lawn, building fences etc. Since my son has taken to fishing, I don’t even have to ask him to dig over the odd flower bed, instead he asks me whether he is allowed to do so (to find bait worms). Isn’t it great when the kids grow up and start to have a more mature outlook on life? 😉
However, the rest of the garden is mine, and I have finally managed to keep my loved ones away from weeding as this had always turned out too dangerous for the plants.

So what is so fascinating about gardening that I sometimes stick my arms up to the elbows in dirt, get soaked in the rain because some replanting has to be finished just then, bend my back that it hurts for the next week? Of course it is the results, bathing in colours and scents, growing your own food (with mixed results), watching visiting birds and other animals. But that’s not the complete answer. For me working in the garden is like meditating. Plants have one advantage: they don’t talk back — they are simply there. Since I work as a teacher surrounded by noise and hectic in the morning, I enjoy the peace and calm in my garden in the afternoon before I go back to my desk in the evening. Thus digging up the soil, cutting hedges, planting and replanting help me to root myself, to take a step back from all the crazy demands, aggression, problems of pupils, parents and colleagues I’m confronted with in my profession.

Finally, gardening is not so much different from educating: you prepare the ground, you give nourishment, you try to keep away dangers and distractions, and then you let grow. So working with plants is quite complementary to working with children.


View from our back garden a few days ago with starlings reflecting in the setting sun.


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