Three Life Lessons Learned From Gardening

Garden Captures Vegetables

Summer is finally here in the Netherlands. It is a great joy to see our neighbourhoods getting greener by the day, with beautiful flowers popping everywhere. Nature has awakened from its deep sleep, just as it always has. Do you have an itch to add more plants to your gardens, balconies or living rooms on days like this? You are definitely not alone! I have also been spending long hours in my garden recently. And, while this piece is about my gardening story and the life lessons I have learned, there is something for you in it – even if you have no plants. Let’s begin!

PLANTS 101: HOW IT ALL STARTED

I grew up with my grandmother, who had a deep love for all kinds of plants. She would take a look at her plants first thing every morning and smile with the greatest joy if she spotted a little flower bud. In summer, she wouldn’t mind travelling for hours from our summer vacation home to her home, just to water her plants. She was also notorious in the way that she “borrowed” tiny branches from gardens that she liked. Especially during my teenage years, I just thought she was a crazy plant lady. I had zero interest in plants and I didn’t get what the big deal was about.

As time went by, I grew to understand and appreciate nature more and more. Soon after she passed away, I made a deep dive into the green world. I just wanted to make sure her plants kept on living. As you can imagine, it was not an easy task for me. But the more time I spent with her plants, the more I fell in love with them. After some research and many trials and errors, I managed to keep them alive!

a newbie gardener moving into The netherlands

By the time I moved to the Netherlands, I had already experimented a little with growing my own plants. I was looking forward to having my own garden so I could grow more things. At first, I started with simple crops like lettuce and some herbs. Each year, I added more variety. Tomatoes, bell peppers, beans, and cucumbers became my next staples. Luckily, there was so much useful information on gardening blogs and books that taught me a great deal. It also turned out that I had the so-called “green fingers” as well. A couple of years ago, I started my own Instagram page to share my gardening journey and inspire beginners like myself.

Growing my own food has been a tremendous learning opportunity; both in gardening and in life. Sowing seeds, watching them grow, blossom and generously offer their fruit is a very uplifting experience. After many years, I am still amazed, every single time, how much a tiny seed can produce. You don’t need acres of land; even a few pots are enough to transform you and your surroundings.  All you need are some seeds, some earth and water. Of course, gardening takes some time and requires a bit of effort, but you will find the benefits in return so tremendous.

Gulin, home garden, fresh food, life

Benefits of gardening

Connecting With Nature

Many studies have shown that spending time in a natural environment has proven physical and mental health benefits. As noted in this article from the University of Minnesota: “Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.”

Knowing where your food comes from

You will feel secure in knowing that your food is non- GMO and you may choose to grow your food organically, free from pesticides. Plus, you will be surprised to see how fresh and tasty it is, even if it is a single radish that you grow. Something with which supermarkets simply cannot compare.

Learning and teaching opportunities

Gardening and caring for plants provides a great opportunity to teach your kids about nature, responsibility and patience. Yourself too!

gardening, fresh food, plants, radishes, life

life lessons learned from gardening and nature

3 characteristics OF nature that we can implement in our own lives

The ways of nature exemplified by the life cycles of plants have much to teach us about how we live our own lives. Here are three characteristics of nature that have become life lessons for me:

  1. Follow your Rhythm: No matter how much effort you give to a plant, it will flourish only when the time is right. In nature, a tomato does not grow faster or earlier just because you water it more often, for example. Nature follows its own cycle, every single time. Trees know when to lose their leaves. Daisies know when to start appearing. A plant would also not decide to flower just because the plant next to it is already flowering. Nature has its own rhythm. Just like us. Even though sometimes we drift, we can come back to our true selves and our inner rhythms.  
  2. Be Resilient: Nature is resilient. A plant can get eaten by slugs, stand under heavy showers and strong winds or get attacked by pests. It may lose some leaves or fruit. Yet, it embraces all and uses its strength to find its balance again. Giving up is not a characteristic found in nature. We can learn from nature in this respect. Even though we may go through hardships, we will find our balance again.
  3. Live in the moment : From seeds to mighty trees, everything in nature lives in the moment. Plants don’t think about the past and regret things. They would not say, “Oh, I wish I saved the water from yesterday, because now it is really hot.” They also don’t think about the future and feel anxious about it. “What if someone comes tomorrow and pulls me out? I’d better not blossom today.” You may be thinking, “But we are not plants!” I agree, we are human beings, with a different evolution. Nevertheless, I invite you to enjoy this simplicity for a moment.

I am curious what you will be thinking the next time you see a plant. Would you like to share in the comments section below?

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Gülin Smit

Gülin moved to the Netherlands in 2004. After many years in corporate life, she currently enjoys being a full time mother. Her main interest areas are wellness, sustainability and nature. She also practices yoga and mindfulness. You can follow her on her wellness blog and on Instagram.

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