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Great Escape: Take a Vacation, Start Your Spring Garden

Spending one to two days a week in the garden can do just as much for you as a vacation.

Still in winter mode, I was surprised last week as I approached my walkway and noticed a cluster of bright purple flowers stretching their delicate petals toward the sun, like a toddler with his arms up toward his mother.

I stopped for a minute and gazed at the vibrant color spreading to fill in patches of my struggling, sleeping garden.

How could I have missed these little beauties, or the bundles of baby whites edging their way over the cement path?

It’s official.

Spring is here and planting a garden can be a great escape from the monotony of daily routines.

Trust me, if I can grow something beautiful, anybody can.  Each year I plant new flowers and while some of them thrive, some don’t survive at all despite my best efforts.

But it’s not about which flowers fail or how perfect my garden looks.

Gardening is like a little sanctuary if you will—a secret haven, a hiding place. And moms, you know better than anyone, we all need a little hiding place.

Plenty of studies, such as the University of Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s, testify to the healing nature of gardening because of showers of Vitamin D from the sun and exercise for the body.

This same study shows that lifelong nonsmokers can reduce the risk of lung cancer by 50 percent if they spend time gardening one to two times per week. And former smokers can reduce their chance by 40 percent.

So I decided it was time to get down and dirty with the bare spots, tall grass and the weeds choking off nutrients from the eager spring buds.

When I see the wild, unkempt vines spiraling in every direction over desolate patches of dry, hard ground it’s like a challenge to me.

I wait for the morning sun to warm the ground and I soak it down with water and dig in. 

At first it seems like and overwhelming job, but as I pick and pluck and prune I see progress and smile to myself.

It’s a lot like getting a new haircut, or spring-cleaning or a good workout—it makes me feel invigorated.

It gives me a sense of hope and wonder.

Another study, “Gardening as a therapeutic intervention in mental health”, gives scientific merit to that sense of hope.

Author of that study, Mathew Page, concludes, “There appears to be an intrinsic relationship between gardening and hope. The very action of planting a seed in the soil requires hope; by encouraging and in some senses, almost imposing a sense of hope to someone, a personal journey may begin.”

Once I get started digging and weeding I can’t wait to drop in the seeds or transfer a plant. Even more exciting, is to watch daily as the garden morphs together to make something beautiful.

I can’t wait to look out my kitchen window in the morning light to check on the progress of my fragile little beauties.

Tending to my garden becomes a creative, physical and mental outlet. It takes on a life of its own and I see something new each week.

Taking time out of your day to escape should have a relaxing, rejuvenating and satisfying effect. That’s what my garden does for me.

The great part is that you don’t have to be an expert or a green thumb. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money.

on E. Hamilton Avenue in Campbell has a wide variety of garden flowers ranging in price from $3.99 up through $60. They also sell starter soil for about $10.

What I like about getting my plants at Home Depot is that if I have followed all care instructions and my plant dies, I can bring it back for exchange with receipt.

It’s good to look at magazines and websites for inspiration and vision before you stroll around the garden center.

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