A garden delights every sense – the whirring of hummingbirds among the lavender plants, the feel of rich, soft dirt between our fingers, bright colors of ripening fruit in the orchard, the taste of a freshly picked tomato. And yet, true garden lovers know that the benefits of gardening aren’t just physical. From season to season, gardens teach valuable life lessons that help us grow as individuals.

  1. Learning to adapt can save you a lot of heartache

Author and avid gardener H. Fred Dale famously said that his green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes he made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. There are gardeners who battle against the elements, fighting to put a specific plant in a specific place, only to find that the same pests return year after year to destroy their best-laid plans. Why won’t it grow?

Sometimes the answer may be in refraining from imposing one’s will on nature and instead learning where the plant does want to be and what growing conditions it thrives in. When we align with nature as with life, we tend to generate optimal outcomes with less struggle and much more satisfaction.

  1. Optimism is important

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding you up until your back gets used to it. Seed catalogs arrive when snow is still on the ground in most places, and garden planning is really just a vision in the gardener’s mind. Time is a great healer that lets us remember the good while forgetting the pain. During winter, last year’s failures and the hard knots in my lower back fade away just long enough to dream of an even better garden this year. It lets me forget about the annoying javelinas who trampled my flower beds and the sneaky raccoons who dug up my bulbs.

Believing that the future holds the possibility of better things, new growth, and abundant rain is the first step to making good things happen.

  1. Pruning is a reality of life

Author James Clear said that ideas are like rose bushes: they need to be consistently pruned and trimmed down. One of my most challenging gardening projects involves the necessary discipline of pruning: cutting back fruit trees and shrubs to remove dead branches and shape their growth. It’s like giving tough love to the garden even when I know that pruning is essential for plant health. The tree that strains to bear all the fruit on its limbs to ripeness, will bear smaller fruit and risk breaking limbs. Pruning and thinning out excess fruit allows for larger, better yields. And the shrub that has been pruned, will come back bushier and more vital next season. Ah, a tough but necessary life lesson here!

In life as in gardening, tasks and responsibilities have a way of proliferating until they smother the essential things of our lives. Optimal growth and living requires pruning. By shedding non-essential demands and energy drains, we can more effectively focus on the truly important issues that will let us thrive.

  1. It’s okay to be alone

There are people who revel in being alone, yet most individuals abhor being alone in quiet spaces, accompanied only by thoughts. In the magical environment of my garden, it always feels okay to be out amidst the plants, sweating and tending each plant, feeling the satisfaction and pride of a well-tended garden while being absolutely alone. Research studies have proven beyond doubt that the simple act of gardening alleviates depression. If you must choose between meditation in a quiet room and meditating through gardening, you’ll find it far easier to empty your mind in the physical exertion of a garden by sitting in silence.

In the garden surrounded by breezes, bees, birds and crawly things, being alone only means there is not another human near; it does not mean you are lonely or isolated. Since trading frenetic city life for the simplicity of country living, I find myself renewed by my garden daily. The bounty of nature is perfect company!

  1. Every good thing requires hard work

First-time gardeners are often surprised by the time it takes to create a bountiful garden. Tending a garden is a worthy way to help nurture and heal our world, but it takes effort: real effort that may lead to plenty of sweat and aching limbs. The reward more than compensates us for the effort: bite into a fresh red tomato and you’ll understand. Or notice your health improving as you eat more fresh organic veggies that you have lovingly cultivated and you will forget the effort it took.

It is similar to the process of raising children, growing a business, or developing a meaningful relationship. Building something worthwhile takes commitment, diligence and lots of effort! Hard work is the secret ingredient for every good thing that we develop over time.

  1. Failure is a necessary stepping stone to success

As in life, a garden is always a series of losses along with a few triumphs that we can learn from. Every year in the garden is a story of both failure and success. Which type of lettuce will do better in the heat? Why did I have so many Japanese beetles? Why didn’t the carrots sprout? It’s an experiment that takes place season after season, and there is no perfect formula that will protect against the ever-changing variables. What worked one year might not work the next because gardening happens in harmony with the dynamics of nature, not in lockstep with a static calendar or formula.

Nature is forever evolving, and there are no guarantees or bulletproof formulas. For every change that ensures success, there will be changes that bring failure. The solution does not lie in hanging up my gardening gloves, but in continuing to observe, learn the life lesson it offers and grow. Every failure shows me what not to do, and opens up possibilities for adaptation… and that flexibility leads to success in gardening just as it does in life.

  1. The unexpected can often be beautiful and magnificent

Just like seasons in the garden, life is short, fraught with the unexpected, filled with adversity, and never seems to go as we planned. It’s also magnificent in its beauty as we experience love and laughter, adventures and small joys that fill us with sublime happiness.

The happiest moments in life are seldom planned – instead, it’s their spontaneity that fill us with delight. Making plans are good but when we hit the dirt, it is invaluable to keep an open mind to all life has to offer. The surprising twists and turns of life offer great gifts, provided we stay open to the unexpected.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.