The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

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Giving Thanks for Gardening

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Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator
slmason@illinois.edu

In a September 8, 2016 article I highlighted the writing of Dr. William Sullivan, Professor and Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at University of Illinois. I referenced his chapter "In Search of a Clear Head" in the book Fostering Reasonableness: Supportive Environments for Bringing out our Best edited by Rachel Kaplan and Avik Basu. In it Sullivan writes "…evidence is now pouring in demonstrating that a dose of nature can have important consequences not only for our ability to focus our minds but also for our capacity to engage the world in a fashion that promotes reasonableness and thus enhances our ability to make a difference in the world." Reasonableness is sounding pretty good right now.

Research studies also highlight the health benefits of gratitude. For example as reported in April 9, 2015 ScienceDaily the research article entitled "A grateful heart is a healthier heart" published by the American Psychological Association revealed "Recognizing and giving thanks for the positive aspects of life can result in improved mental, and ultimately physical, health in patients with asymptomatic heart failure."

Unfortunately the one holiday dedicated to thankfulness and giving is compressed between two self-indulgent, bound-to-give-you-heart-failure holidays. Have we given up on "thanks" and "giving"?

Gardeners are generally a thankful bunch; after all, who else smiles at the vision of a steaming heap of malodourous manure. Ok, maybe manure is not an entry for your gardening gratitude journal. But what are you thankful for? Here are a few examples to get you thinking:

· The feel of a warm sunny day in November

· The smell of freshly turned soil on a warm March day

· The taste of the first home grown strawberry of the season

· The taste of the last home grown tomato of the season

· The first frost in fall so we can quit watering the tomatoes

· Garden catalogs that fill mail boxes and dreams with bodacious blooms and voluptuous vegetables

· For farmers' markets and local growers who provide the aforementioned bodacious blooms and voluptuous vegetables when my dreams fall short

· That I have a loving husband who calmly waits on a garden bench for my return to reality when I enter my glassy-eyed garden center trance

· That portly caterpillars miraculously transform into blissful butterflies

· That creeping Charlie makes my lawn look lush and green…from far away

· Garden failures that give us a chance to learn and a reason to go shopping for another plant

· Security that we don't feel the need to carry a gun when we garden

· That we share the planet with plenty of other insane gardeners, so we don't look quite so crazy

· The enduring sense of resiliency and inspiration when we commune with a 200-year-old oak

· The people who work to protect the land dominated by 200-year-old oaks

· Plants listed as "not eaten by rabbits and deer"

· The ongoing discovery of the true list of plants "not eaten by rabbits and deer"

· Tomatoes that rally to produce something edible despite sharing their space with three-foot tall weeds

· Spring flowers that magically appear after a frightfully frigid winter

· Roses that continue to bloom in December

· The freedom to grow vegetables because we want to, not because we have to

· The optimistic attitude that next year will be better

· And the selective memory to weed out the mental mess of garden plans unfulfilled

I'm thankful that I hang out with some of the most giving people in the world - gardeners.

Apply today to join other thankful gardeners in the Master Gardener Program. Check out our website for more information and to apply http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/

Questions? Our great horticulture team is here to help. In our Champaign office - Ava Heap carmien2@illinois.edu (217-333-7672); in Danville - Jenney Hanrahan jhanraha@illinois.edu (217-442-8615) or Onarga office - Trent Hawker tkhawke2@illinois.edu (815-268-4051).

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