How Gardening Changed My Life

It is hard to believe that some years ago I sat in an air-conditioned office all day, then rushed around when I was off work trying to love my family and keep my household functional. I remember telling people that it didn't matter what the weather was like -- I would be inside anyway. Thankfully, after many steps, I began to have time to appreciate people, nature, pets and, three years ago, gardening.

Fifteen years ago when we moved in our new house on 10 acres of land (we had many trees in the areas away from the house but few near the house), we planted about two dozen trees. At that time it seemed that it would be forever before we would have shade. We now have shade. A large outbuilding and a smaller potting shed also created shade. We still have many areas with full sun or about half days of sun.

When I first started gardening, every year I planted annuals in pots after everything else died. That was before I was enlightened on the benefits of amending my soil. Up until then there was nothing about gardening I enjoyed except perhaps that my annuals in pots looked nice and it was kind of fun going out to buy them on Saturdays.

My First Garden Success: A Stone Patio

My husband has done so many things for me and bought me such wonderful gifts that on Father's Day three years ago, I decided that my kids and I should do something from the heart. We had had some wooden chairs down by the pond that rotted faster than they should have, and my husband wanted to replace them when he was able to put something on the ground to protect the chairs.

So I read up on making a stone patio, and my kids and I did it. It is 12 feet by 14 feet, and it has some huge pieces of stone in it. It is not level because my stones were so uneven that I just couldn't figure out how to do it. We dug out as much as we were supposed to and used the tiny stone sheeting, but some of the stones were one inch thick in one spot and five inches thick in another. But it really looks wonderful and is flat enough to walk on easily and for the most part set the furniture on without noticeable wobbles.

I then amended my soil in the area and planted around the patio, bought furniture and found some interesting things I already had, and voila, our first garden room.

That was my first success involving my garden, and soon I was regularly visiting garden stores. Each time my plants thrived I was inspired to do more. A large portion of my fun money goes to garden books, paraphernalia and mostly plants.

Learning As You Grow

I have made many mistakes. At first I didn't read anything about plant heights, for example. Then I had to move a lot of stuff. One of the beautiful things about gardening is that with hard work, you can fix mistakes and create so much.

The biggest thing that has had an emotional effect on me is the creativity, success and simply making everything beautiful. We have an aerial photo of our house taken right after we moved there. We thought it was beautiful at the time, but when I compare that with the present state of our property it is simply amazing. Sometimes my grounds have difficult stages and not everything looks exactly pretty. But when they do look great it is like walking around in my own personal paradise.

Having Pride in My Garden

Sometimes when someone comes to visit, they seem stunned at what our back yard has finally become. I know that feeling well, because when I visit the yards of other folks who pursue a beautiful garden, some much greater than mine, it is so interesting to see all they have created. I just want to keep expanding and improving on my little corner of paradise. I never knew I could be as persistent about anything as I have been with gardening. (Except raising my kids, the number one priority for me.)

It makes me immensely happy to make one plant turn into many and to add another plot of bare land to my beautified areas. Also I love giving and receiving cuttings. I have become more accepting of myself in my natural state since after just a short time of gardening in the heat I am sweaty and have dirty nails and my hair is a frizzy mess. Sometimes I get caught like that, and it is still kind of embarrassing, but I have come a long way from the time I was vain and cared a lot about my looks and grooming. (Still, any suggestions on how to look great while gardening would be greatly appreciated!)

One day I hope to become involved with others in beautifying the area I live in through litter control and planting. I would also like to have enough cut flowers and plant propagations so that I can share beautiful flower arrangements and potted plants from my yard with others.

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