Author: Sophia Falco
When I garden this allows me to look outside myself no matter if I tend to one plant or many, and liberates me from my negative thoughts especially during trying times. For example, when dealing with bipolar depression. Or living in this state of the world that is far from being in equilibrium, however gardening teaches us that there is still beauty in the world. This is illustrated by plants, when treated with care and respect, will still carry on with their endeavors of growing. In turn in order for us to foster more positive thoughts, we too must treat ourselves with self-compassion. This is not necessarily obvious that this can be difficult, but indeed it can be, and a practice for this allows for this act to become easier. A great way to begin is with guided self-compassion meditations.
I admire plant’s strength to grow in the cracks of sidewalks and concrete. This illustrates their strength and that they strive to surpass past the odds. Furthermore, gardening as a gateway to look outside myself means to me that I am connected to a greater purpose than myself by tending to another life source, and a connection to mother earth that can often be overlooked. In regards to bipolar disorder depression, I know this first hand, and at the same time even when darkness can approach tapping into a greater purpose like this allows for light to shine in. An integral part to getting the most out of gardening is to be mindful otherwise being lost in thought takes away from the beauty just before our eyes.
I am grateful that I was introduced to gardening at a young age by my Aunt who would take me to her plot at the local community garden. I have carried on with gardening over the years. Currently I am growing sunflowers, and they are in the process of blossoming. I am a witness to this amazing feat, and at the same time I am an active participant in their lives. As a testament to how gardening is such an integral part of my life, I combine elements of the natural world into my poetry. I have written several poems about sunflowers titled: “Ode to a Sunflower”, “Yellow Leads Me to Enlightenment”, and “Dear Sunflower”. They are my favorite flower because for me they represent joy, hope, and resiliency. Their petals are so bright and uplifting, and I like to think their petals mimic the brightness of the stars. A fun poetry form that I have used in nature poems is called the Pantoum which has repeating lines throughout. In addition, my record for my tallest sunflower was that it reached 16 feet tall!
When I grow vegetable crops it is so great to harvest the vegetables. It is especially interesting to grow tomatoes when in the correct season because there are more varieties to choose from and the tomatoes can be different colors such as purple, pink, orange, etc. In one growing season in which I had about 8 heirloom tomato plants or so I grew over 200 pounds of tomatoes and so it was rewarding to donate many of these to the Community Service Agency. Gardening does not have to be a big endeavor and if there is not much space to grow things, a simple household plant is also rewarding to have to tend to.
In conclusion, gardening can be a multifaceted activity that involves mindfulness, a responsibility, a goal, to be a witness, beauty, a tool to help with mental health, and a purpose greater than yourself. I highly encourage people to try it out!