Institute for Gardenetics Research and Other Works*), Dr. Hortfreud recently published an important paper on the five primary types of garden therapy, as observed… well it doesn’t really matter where she observed these five types of garden therapy in action, does it?
We just need to know that through “extensive research”, Dr Hortfreud identified that there is more than one way for a gardener to get therapy from her garden. There are five.
Garden ritual therapy occurs over the course of the year as the events of the garden unfold gradually, one day at a time, one ritual at a time.
Waiting for the first crocus to bloom. Planting pansies in containers on the front porch. Sowing peas on St. Patrick’s Day. Picking the first ripe tomato. As each ritual is anticipated, observed, and then remembered, we learn through this therapy that as much as things change, there is a sameness, a rhythm to the garden that is comforting.
Garden digging therapy happens in bursts of great energy and enthusiasm as the gardener tackles the most arduous and physical tasks of gardening and problem solving.
Through sweat and occasional blood, we work out our troubles in and out of the garden. We reclaim a flower bed, choked out with weeds. We determine a course of action to solve a problem left outside the garden gate. When there is no hole to be dug or garden bed to be reclaimed, we turn to mowing. We tell our friends that before a major decision can be made, we must mow on it. And then we set about mowing the lawn, sweating out the issue, until at last the therapy session ends, and we’ve made a decision.
Garden maintenance therapy is for refreshing the psyche of the gardener.
During times of quiet activity in the garden, we ponder the day, think about new plans, new flowers, new goals for the garden. Our hands comfortably hold the pruners as we methodically deadhead a flower border. Almost without thinking, we find the faded blooms and cut them out. We weed, rarely pausing to know if the plant is a weed or not. We know, we just do it. By the time we have finished, our psyche is refreshed and we are ready for another day outside of the garden.
Garden visiting therapy occurs when we venture out of the garden and go see other gardens.
If we only see our own garden, we become stale and the garden becomes stale. The cure is to visit other gardens and talk to other gardeners, to see and learn new ways of gardening, to find new plants. All these ideas can be brought back to our own gardens, where they can be put into action, bringing new life to a garden that seems to us like a barren desert in its sameness. There are two other forms of this therapy. One is to invite others to our gardens where they can help us see the garden through their eyes. The other is to go to garden centers and nurseries to see what possibilities there are for the garden. This type of therapy, in any form, is obviously best done as group therapy, with other gardeners.
Finally, there is garden relaxation therapy which occurs when we are able to just walk about the garden and not feel compelled to do anything but enjoy it.
This is an advanced state to reach in the world of garden therapy, and some gardeners never reach it. They walk through their garden and see plants to water, branches to prune, a patch of earth that calls out for a new plant. But if one day they can walk about their garden and just enjoy it, then that is the greatest therapy of all.
*I made up iGROW, you know that, right? And you know about Dr. Hortfreud, too, don’t you? She is my garden therapist. Dr. Hortfreud, by the way, is qualified to assist with all types of garden therapy.