When I was a young girl growing up on Hilton Head my mother would say to me, “Becca, one day you’ll be a gardener. It’s just in your DNA.” I remember looking at her sweat-stained T-shirt and dirt-encrusted fingernails. I remember holding my nose to avoid smelling the mulch. And I remember thinking, “No, gardening’s not for me. I must be adopted.”
But, as always, my mother was right. I have become a gardener.
I love removing a newly-purchased plant from its plastic container and planting it in the ground. I love wrestling with the garden hose. And, most of all, I love the fact that gardening is a form of moving meditation.
My dear friend Mary Bruce likens gardening to Tai Chi—an ancient practice that uses gentle flowing movements to reduce stress. Mary Bruce has a plot at Heritage Farm in Sea Pines and she goes there every day to unwind and “just be with her plants.”
Like Mary Bruce, gardening is a daily joy in my household. I recently made an edible garden for my three daughters. Every morning we “give the plants breakfast,” (as my two-year-old Ruth Love says) and remove dead leaves and weeds from the pots. This has become my favorite morning ritual and it is such a relaxing way to start the day.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Gardening is hard work. Weeding, watering, and wiping your brow—you’re in constant motion. As a result, gardening can be calorie-burning. One interesting site reported that the average person burns nearly 300 calories an hour gardening and I believe it. Squatting, walking, lifting—I feel like I’m in a hot yoga class, especially come May on the Island. The repetitious movement serves as a distraction from my to-do lists and gets me in sync with the Lowcountry.
Tips to Getting into the Gardening Groove:
- Invest in good plants. Buy from local nurseries like Green Thumb, the Greenery, Inc, and Sunshine Nursery.
- Let your garden evolve. Rather than buying all your plants at once (and maybe overwhelming yourself), try conquering small areas at a time.
- Make it edible. We all know fruits and vegetables are good for us, but they are even better and tastier when they are from your own backyard.
- Get a hat. You can find an inexpensive hat at any tourist shop.
- Stay hydrated. I like to put a mint sprig from my garden in my water bottle.