Do you call yourself a Gardener?

In the past decade, I’ve finally had the time to become a real gardener.

The interest has always been there, and I’ve had indoor plants and for most of that time a garden to maintain. But I was a dabbler, a homeowner who kept on top of the mowing, at best an aspiring gardener.

A real gardener has a closer connection with their patch, with its soil and ecosystem. To me, a garden with a grass and some pretty plants but no birds or butterflies or bugs or worms isn’t a real garden.

Swallowtail butterfly on zinnia
Swallowtail butterfly on zinnia in my garden. They breed on nearby citrus trees.

These differences are reflected in language.

  • Gardener is associated with long-term, ongoing nurturance of one place, stewardship, observation, planting, propagation, weeding, experimenting, learning, care, love
  • Garden maintenance invokes tools (usually power tools like mowers, strimmers) used to tame a patch of land for visual purposes. There is no love but perhaps a sense of pride at a perfectly flat lawn.
  • Landscaping implies professional knowledge and aesthetics, although it can include environmental considerations

And so now, when people ask me what I do, I include describing myself as a gardener. It has become a part of my identity that affects all parts of my life.

I think a garden can reflect your whole philosophy of life – whether you try to be in control or just go with the flow, whether you’re tidy or messy or somewhere in between, and whether you tend to find your own way or are a follower of rules and fashion.

Here are my reasons to garden…

  1. Escape to a timeless world. Seasons matter in the garden. And sun, rain, wind, humidity, location, soil type, climate and microclimates. All these things are beyond our control and we have to accept them and work with them. Hours and minutes are meaningless.
  2. Exercise and movement. The variety of movements, walking, digging, reaching make us move and stretch in all sorts of ways without even thinking about it.
  3. Fresh air, flowers and sunshine. It cheers you up and makes you healthy.
  4. Somewhere quiet to sit and reflect.
  5. Fresh food, grown organically. I love food – fresh herbs, salads, vegetables – and this is the best way to get it.
  6. We owe it to the wildlife – it’s their home too.
  7. Regenerative gardening, like regenerative agriculture, is part of our mitigation against climate change.

… what are your reasons?

And do you think your reasons have any bearing on your political views?

You can see my garden blog here – or my campaign to turn barren verges into nature strips here.