My dearest Yarden, It wasn’t just one of your plants that snared me. Nor did my love for you hit all of a sudden. No, falling in love with you was a slow burn—tending and puttering and gleaning enjoyment comes so easily in this verdant slice of island paradise. This year, I celebrate the International Year of the Garden simply by walking out my door into our carefree, smitten lovefest.
It hasn’t always been this rosy. The trials and tribulations of being your gardener include: a harem of fat and happy ruminants chomping away at all my hard work; heavy, crushing snowfalls snapping your woody plants like toothpicks; summer droughts arriving right when I want a little holiday and frying your veggies to a crisp.
Oh, and bugs! One of my true passions is the diversity of life anchored within your walls. These glorious garden helpers have a few rotten cousins, though, that multiply to ghastly levels and maraud willy-nilly over your prized strawberries, lettuces, and dahlias, until I sneak off to the greenhouse and cry.
But then, that warm, fuzzy love comes back. Through all those hardships I remember there have been hard-won successes that trump the failures. I endure these maddening conditions to reap bigger rewards: your first luscious strawberry plucked in June; the raging blaze of petals and scents that drip from your climbing, rambling, overgrown-but-handsome rose bramble in the corner; that feeling I get from generously sharing the summer bounty of your beans, mint, zukes, and apples; those altruistic waves of giving away plant love when your vines are laden and I already have a full larder.
I’ve been lucky to spend a long time rooting in fertile ground; growing up, I was surrounded by my grandparents’ astonishing leeks, watermelons, and tomatoes fertilized with wild concoctions from the beach. This shaped my love and appreciation for plants and how they can impact people—and led me to a wide variety of projects and job opportunities that nurture my deep biophilia. I revel in the great fortune of mentorship and teachings by many special and wise colleagues who have become friends through gardening. Now I love nerding out with that awesome bit of Latin I’ve picked up to describe all the flora and fauna that share our plot.
I feel great about local food security when I preserve some favourite recipes for winter feasts. Success comes when I share your seeds or exchange tidbits of info with old-timers who just know what works in our neighbourhood. And I feel victorious when I stick it to the deer as they try to foil our plans. I set my clock by ritual dates and milestones: ordering that special batch of seeds in the dead of winter; waiting for your gorgeous show of bulbs and shrubs at Mother’s Day. I rake and tidy on those last crisp fall days so you’re ready to erupt with snowdrops, witch hazels, and hellebores in winter.
And in return for all my tending, you give me so many benefits. The list of free services you provide is almost endless: healing, uplifting, stress busting, sustaining, protecting, soothing, inspiring … The Corona times gave me the realization that you anchor me in my “love of place,” and the opportunity to do so. Your greenery right outside my door is a soft cloak of beautiful self-sufficiency and self-care. You are here, you are important, and you are a solution to some big challenges with the planet, food systems, and inner well-being. Research from around the world constantly proves that being surrounded by you has immeasurable benefits. Loving you fully, even through the follies and frustrations, is the answer. Yours botanically, Tyler There is a splendid movement afoot this year being promoted by the Canadian Garden Council and supported by many local groups, including the Comox Valley Horticultural Society. Keep an eye out for “International Year of the Garden” events, information, and ways to celebrate or bring more garden benefits into your life.