Deep inside I am a passionate gardener. But as with any passion one may have, it gets displaced by more pressing duties, like the birth of a new baby, the dogged commitment to breastfeed on demand, and the many little tasks of being an ever-present mom and wife. No regrets, though. For I’ve been there in all the "firsts" in the lives of my three kids – first smile, first yawn, first fart, first poo, first word, first step and first song. I’ve been there whenever they need me, or whenever I need them. I’m theirs for their taking anytime, for hugs and kisses alike.
I first realized I loved tending a garden sometime after my eldest child turned 1. After a year of carrying a baby in my arms and finding that the baby would rather waddle and walk away rather than be cooped up in my embrace, my arms suddenly felt both empty and free -- empty of a load (baby), yet at the same time free to do other things – one of which is start a garden.
What a thrill to find that I have quite a green thumb. I first bought 2 pots of tiny, newly-planted flowers which were then added with a pot or two every week, until the front yard of our rented house became abloom with a profusion of colors. I remember how mothers in our neighborhood would, upon reaching our house, suddenly walk much more slowly and leisurely, to savor the visual feast of my garden. Past my garden, they would pick up their speed and race to wherever it is they were going to. Funny sight, I remember.
How I thank God for plants. I am not elitist and discriminating when it comes to plants. I love flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors. I love the sanguine happy faces of sunflowers. I love the sophistication of orchids. Heck, I even love the unassuming flowers of okra. I love, too, those which do not bear flowers at all. Bromeliads with their starry outline enrapt me, as do stately palms and homely ferns. Plants are beautiful and quiet, simple in a breathtaking way, pleasant to both the eyes and soul.
Last month, I again found myself gardening. Youngest baby is now running around and would take to me only for the occasional nursing. I rejoice at this new season of gardening for me. I now find myself on Mondays digging up rich soil from my compost, planting anew, replanting new ones, asking stem cuttings from church members, rearranging the pots, etc. I water the plants every morning and lovingly look at them every afternoon. I told my husband, who generously obliges my passion by the way, that I look forward to retiring in some place where I can garden my time away and sell the surplus to kindred gardeners like me.
Do you know that gardeners have longer lifespans? The reasons are many. Gardening, assuming it’s organic and natural, yields both healthy food and relaxing foliage. Plants detoxify the air and give off refreshingly high levels of oxygen. Taking care of a garden affords plenty of exercise. Lately, I have read that gazing at a garden is a form of meditation. Meditation is focusing your senses on something relaxing, thus displacing stressful thoughts. While others may opt for yoga, I choose to either do a breathing exercise or gaze at the flowers in my garden, noting each tiny bud which emerges, rejoicing over a new seedling which sprouts and taking in all the new blooms. Gardening keeps you under the sun (not too much, though) for healthier doses of Vitamin D which is now found to prevent a host of diseases like cancer.
Here’s my garden, only two months old. Unimpressive, really. Yet it brings me joy, which is what matters.
Flirtatious flower this is.
coco water, coco sugar, coco juice and coco milk many years later.
By the way, the topmost photo is not my garden. It's where I bought some of the plants I have. I'm working on having a garden like that. Next year I'll take pictures of this same garden in order to document the growth. I still want to plant hibiscus, daisies, lavender, rosemary...