There are few pastimes that can beat gardening for variety and longevity. Just think about it: Gardening is something that can be done practically anywhere on this earth — indoors or out. Why, the astronauts have even tried their hands at gardening in outer space. Gardening is one of those activities that can span the ages from young to old in its inclusion. It gives us the opportunity to be outdoors, to get a bit of good exercise in the process and, wonder of wonders — it often produces fresh food or flowers.

Many of us can trace our gardening “roots” back to our childhood when a relative or neighbor took the time and interest in us to introduce us, to school us in the basics of growing things. I, for one can name a number of my personal gardening gurus, starting in my childhood when my grandmother Reba demonstrated that you can grow a lot of goodness in a small space, to plant-savvy friends and neighbors who have introduced me to new worlds of plants and how to care for them. I continue to discover more and learn more all the time.

Even our garden failures, or plant victims, as some might label them, teach us what does and does not work. For my part, I have learned a number of valuable things from my years of gardening, and those things don’t always seem to relate directly to plants and growing them. In short, gardens and gardening can teach us a lot about life in general. If there was one thing you’d like to be able to pass on to other generations about “life’s greatest lesson” to be learned from gardening, what would it be?

I posed this question to some of my Facebook friends and they came up with a gratifying collection of rewards that come with the practice of growing things. Like me, they discovered a range of bonuses that come from the garden. Here are some of them:


Delayed gratification

Give and take

Learning from mistakes


Hard work

Trial and error

Healing properties of gardening


Reap what you sow

Make dreams come true


Nothing is static

Joy of digging the dirt

Best therapy on earth

Respect for all living creatures

Fragility of life

Resilience of life




Spring has been slow in coming. This past winter was a tough one for many gardens. Several of my friends and neighbors are lamenting the loss of perennials and shrubs as a result of what Old Man Winter threw at them. Things that had survived years of brutal winters just threw up their hands and cashed in their chips last winter. It is another one of those life lessons that teach us nothing is permanent, life can change in an instant.

We can give up trying. But my bet is that a lot of us are gamblers at heart, and love the challenges as well as the rewards our gardens afford us. Well, maybe not love the challenges, but we sure do rejoice when we and our plants overcome them. The early spring bloom somehow seemed more brilliant, more widespread this spring, just another message from Mother Nature that all is not lost and there is plenty yet to enjoy.

As we work our way into another growing season, I’ll offer this caution: Before you chop that lifeless-looking whatever to the ground, give it a few more days, a couple weeks to make sure it isn’t beyond redemption. Just when I thought the sage was toast, it sent out a couple of tentative little wrinkled leaves, enough to let me know everything was going to be OK. It is that first lesson learned in the garden — patience. And it is indeed a virtue — possess it if you can.