Gardening As Therapy – Yes or No?

This morning I was sent this picture by a friend via Facebook.

Photo from Generation Alpha


My Experience

When I was a kid Mum had a vegetable garden out in the backyard.  It ran alongside the fence and originated from a rotten tomato that was thrown in disgust out the kitchen window.  That tomato provided seeds which grew into flourishing tomato plants. Mum then decided to create a proper veggie patch complete with marigold borders to keep the bugs off the plants.

She grew peas, beans, carrots, lettuce, capsicum, silver beet, pumpkins and chokos in addition to the tomatoes; not in great numbers, just enough for our own requirements.  I remember the vegetables being very tasty. Tomatoes that were sweeter than the ones I buy from the shops now. Peas and beans that were super crunchy and delicious.

Mum was the gardener in our family. Neither my brother nor myself inherited her love of the garden.  For us gardening was a punishment, something that was imposed on us when we had committed some crime against household management.

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Pulling weeds, separating the lettuces or picking out less than perfect specimens that would be used solely for seeds were jobs we loathed but they gave us time to consider our actions and to formulate a decent apology.  Many a weed felt the force of my wrath as I ripped it from the earth and hurled it into a bucket. Stress release therapy in action!  Definitely better than being sent to one’s room to fume over injustice and repent at leisure.

Watering and picking veggies for dinner were the best jobs.  Mum figured out pretty quickly that it was not a good idea to give me the job of harvesting the crop. I ate more than I put in the basket.  So I usually ended up doing the watering and my brother had to pick vegetables.  He hated vegetables. Mum was hoping that he would follow my lead and munch on them as he picked and so develop a liking for healthy foods, but it never happened.  He is in his sixties now and still isn’t a fan of vegetables.

And Now.

The only gardening I do now is throwing the fallen palm fronds into the garden bag. My garden is a masterpiece of low maintenance….lots of mulch and hardy plants. I don’t even water it, except in extreme circumstances. It is every plant for itself.

Each week when I shop for fresh vegetables, I tell myself that I should set up a veggie patch…some nice raised beds where I could grow tomatoes that taste like tomatoes used to…but I never seem to get around to it. I wonder if deep seated memories of childhood punishments are holding me back?

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So, when I read of gardening being useful in the management of anxiety, I am pretty sure it wouldn’t work for me. My time spent in the garden usually involves playing with the dogs. I find that to be much better therapy for my anxiety – and it comes with lots of wags and sloppy kisses. It is just as messy but far more therapeutic.


Are you taking time to be outside? It is one of the loveliest things you can do for yourself.

Download the Self Care Checklist to make sure you are taking good care of yourself.

Read more about Self Care: The Self Care 20 Day Challenge


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