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Why do I garden?

by Timber Press on February 2, 2012

in Design, Gardening

Gardeners come to love plants and the landscape in many different ways. And today, garden writer John Markowski is sharing why he gardens here on the Timber blog. John posts regularly on An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener. 

So here’s the deal, I’m turning 40 within the next 6 months and like many before me, I’m in self-examination mode.

By no means are we talking midlife crisis or anything like that. I’ll drive my ’98 Honda Civic into the ground, so no need for a new sports car. I’ll never bungee jump or skydive because yours truly is deathly afraid of heights. It’s not that at all.

I like to think of it more as a self-assessment. Am I happy in my current job? Sure. Are my children healthy and thriving? Absolutely. Am I one of the lucky ones who has a stable marriage? Beyond that and more. She has been my best friend since we met in 1990 and that ain’t changing any time soon.

Which leads me to gardening.

It has become larger than life for me the past two years and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon. It is always on my mind and I often wonder if it could ever become a career. Or do I love it as much as I do because it is NOT my career? Hmmm … that one may require a therapist’s chair.

So why do I love gardening so much? For the most part, it wasn’t anything I showed an interest in at a young age. I never pursued any education in the field of horticulture. So why the plant lust? I’ve spent the past few days really thinking this one through and here is what I came up with (in no particular order):

  • The puzzle – As much as I enjoy an individual plant and its attributes, I am not a plant geek. I am more fascinated by how plants play off of each other. I can move plants around with the best of them, always in search of the perfect combination. Do I know that there is no “perfect”? Of course, but is sure is fun as hell to try.


  • Plants/gardens evolving – Not only year by year and season by season, but really week by week. I, for the most part, could give a rat’s ass about interior design. Once you finish a room, it’s done and it becomes stale quickly (unless you enjoy painting annually). But outdoors, you get to enjoy the spring blooms, followed by the summer blooms and the quick ascension of the ornamental grasses. Before you know it, it’s fall foliage time and then the coneflowers and grasses are gracefully covered in snow. Then it is spring again and the perennials have doubled in size and that deciduous shrub is blooming better than it ever has before. It is never dull.


  • I am a train wreck indoors – There is definitely a psychological side to this one. I am the opposite of a handy man. Thank god I have a very handy brother in law and father in law. They have saved me many times over. Outside in the garden is where I reign supreme and I am the “go to guy.”

  • My gardening passion as mystery – Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis have no idea that I am a lover of all things plants. I have a lot of fun throwing in an educational tidbit when people least expect it. And if they ever discover my blog, it is supremely entertaining.
  • The attraction of wildlife – As my gardens have matured and I’ve added more and more native plants, the birds, bees and butterflies have shown up in droves. I feel like I’ve created my own sanctuary/ecosystem where they can all coexist without disruption. Shit, I even like having the deer around.

  • The solitude – There is nowhere else I can go and completely tune out all else life has to offer. I get lost amongst the greenery and blooms and creatures. A form of meditation, if you will. Except it smells a lot better, I enjoy getting numerous blisters, and love the pain in my calves when all is said and done.

Deep down, I do believe my future life/career involves gardening/horticulture/design in some aspect. There, I said it. Now hopefully Oprah is right and the universe will hear me and respond.

Thank you so much for sharing, John! Visit John at his blog, An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennie February 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I understand. Getting lost in our outdoor spaces is magical.

2 Joanna February 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I adore this post. I’m subscribing to your blog immediately, and you should read mine before it warms up and we spend all our time outside. Native plants, evolving environments, all of these themes delight me in gardening as well. Ah, kindred souls, so good to find them.

3 Modern Day Redneck February 4, 2012 at 5:58 am

Oh wow, how funny. I just posted about the same thing and turning 40 two days ago. I think I was in a darker spot than you though. For the time being I am back to my old self but there for a few days I was in a bad way.
Anyway, just found your blog and thought I would comment. You can stop by mine if you want.

4 Laura February 5, 2012 at 7:31 am

You are a mere child! I am 70 years old and LOVE to garden. I keep adding things to do, greenhouse, chickens, espalier fruit trees, mushroom logs. I have had to adapt a few things, and learned to ignore some things. But, the sense of accomplishment, the delight of the first bloom, seeing the bees come home with pollen, the fresh air, the solitude, and best of all is the good save food that I grow.
By the way, at 70 I am in super good health, take no prescriptions – but, I do take aspirin for my arthritis.
Gardening is good for you mentally and physically. Keep it up

5 BTS June 27, 2013 at 4:12 am

In this modern age, kids are disconnected from nature. This post shows all — young and old — the value of the great outdoors.

6 Brian Ridder June 27, 2013 at 11:41 am

We couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the comment!

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