garden

Gardening for the Soul

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I remember our gardens growing up... the smell of the dirt, the watering of the plants, the pulling of the radishes and beets. I remember my mom giving me a tiny pair of gloves and showing me how to place the plants in the ground. Those times in the garden with her are some of my sweetest memories. I feel at ease in the garden, and there is a sense of simplicity to the tasks that make even the most complicated things seem simpler. But I would argue that there's something about gardening that appeals to most everyone, even if we don't really have a green thumb. 

There's a positive energy that comes with connecting to creation, seeing growth right in front of you, making a tangible difference in your surroundings. Whether we recognize it or not, gardening touches part of our souls. "From dust you have come and to dust you shall return." But the benefits of playing in the dirt aren't just spiritual and emotional. Gardening is good for our bodies too! Here are a few reasons why I believe (and science suggests) that gardening is good for your body + soul:

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+ Stress relief: In a world where we are constantly pulled in a million directions with something always demanding our attention, the sights, smells, and sounds of the garden can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Our brains have a finite capacity for attention directed at cell phones, computers, etc.  and when that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, error-prone, distractible, and stressed out. Luckily this fatigue appears to be reversible! We can replenish ourselves by engaging in "involuntary attention," an effortless form of attention that we use when enjoying nature.

+ Improves depression symptoms: similar to the stress relief, time in nature allows our brains to disconnect from all the distractions, stress and screens trying to grab our attention and focus us on something tangible. I also believe it connects us back to creation, which brings us to a grounded place emotionally and naturally improves our mood. 

+ Good for the immune system. Playing in the dirt exposes us to good bacteria in our environment. Kind of like nature's probiotic if you will. ;) 

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+ It can be exercise: The days after we plant our garden are some of my sorest days! Hamstrings, triceps, biceps, abs oh my! It's because digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise! 

+ It's good for your brain! Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. 

+ Good nutrition is good for mind, body and soul! The vegetables, herbs and fruit grown in your backyard are ideally organic and are super fresh, so the nutrients, minerals and enzymes are still active. Feeding your body the best is good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally!

Be outside, grow your own food, connect to nature, relieve stress and anxiety, boost immunity and brain health and improve mood all at the same time? Sign me up. Honestly it sounds like a commercial for the perfect pharmaceutical medication, except with gardening there are no disclaimers or side effects. Just some good old fashioned dirt under your fingernails. 

Garden Plans

I love being in the garden. I love planting seeds or tiny plants, watering them and loving them, watching them grow, sitting back and enjoying the serenity of a beautiful green space. I think it has a lot to do with being part of Creation and connecting to the Creator, a theme we see a lot in the Bible. But that's just me and my thoughts ;)

Since we love to be outside and cultivate a space of our own, one of our biggest house projects is our yard. When we moved in the landscaping had basically been untended for five or more years, so we had our work cut out for us! Since moving in, we've removed large obstructive shrubs, graded the backyard for drainage and laid a flagstone patio. It's finally time to get to some of the more fun, aesthetic type projects, and I'm so excited! 

Via  HGTV

Via HGTV

We are going for a practical and functional space that will double as a garden and a place to entertain. You can find all the inspiration posts here, but so far our plans include:

+ Six raised garden beds with chicken wire screens (DIY with plans coming soon!), gravel between the beds and a stack stone fire pit in the middle (DIY hack coming soon!)
+ Blueberry bushes lining the exterior of the garden near the edge of the house
+ A modern mix of greenery including a mixture of ferns, creeping jenny, boxwood and herbs. We already have two white ceramic hanging planters (similar here) to fill with greenery, and I'm thinking whitewashed terra-cotta planters or perhaps these zinc planters for the back porch to tie in with the flagstone. Would love to plant a variety of white bulbs as well to keep the color scheme minimal and add more texture. 
+ A few galvanized planters for daffodils and tulips... because they are so pretty! I mean... because the garden needs flowers for cross pollination (if my husband asks) ;) #multipurpose
+ String lights to add ambiance to the space, natch. We also have this vintage iron chandelier that I plan to add solar string lights to and hang on a shepherd's hook just outside the garden space. 

Also loving these gold hanging planters (1, 2, 3) either to add some texture or just to hang in the sunroom. Would be a cute Easter gift or Mother's Day gift too! Swoon! Can't wait to update you guys when we get it all done!!

Backyard Gardening for Everyone

One of the things I most looked forward to with owning a home was the ability to have an in-ground vegetable and herb garden! I have such fond childhood memories of planting, watering, and harvesting our garden, and nothing beats fresh, organic (and free!) produce all summer long. 

That being said, if you don't have a large backyard or even a yard at all, gardening is by no means off limits to you! As a means of simplifying life and preventing the deer from feasting on our plants, we planted a mix of in-ground and container vegetables this year. Container gardening is feasible for anyone, even if all you have is a tiny fire escape or a windowsill

A few tips:

+ Choose containers that suit your style, but make sure that there are holes in the bottom for drainage. Select deep containers for vegetables, and if you are growing on a window sill, make sure to place a plate or try beneath the containers to hold the draining water. We prefer cedar planters since they are natural, rot-resistant, and we love the smell of cedar.These are a great option.

+ Tomatoes, bell peppers, are a great place to start and do very well in containers! Also try potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini squash and yellow squash for summer. The type of vegetables and herbs is really up to you, and there are very few limits!


+ Herbs can be grown just about anywhere, in any small or large container. Love these creative ideas for windowsill gardens!

+ Grow zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce and chard on a porch or deck, away from deer and other animals. 

+ You can start your plants with seeds or you can plant them as pre-grown transplants. Seeds should be started indoors, well before being planted into your container. Growing from transplants is great if you are new to gardening or aren't able to start planting early. Transplants are already a few weeks old, so choose plants that look healthy.

+ Plant your vegetables and herbs with plenty of nutrient-rich potting soil, and water them daily! If the soil is moist to the touch, you can skip the watering, but check it daily. Also, make sure to water your plants until water comes through the bottom of the pot. 

+ Looking for more small-space gardening ideas? Love this post on window gardening 

Outdoor Dreaming

One of the things I love the most about our home is that every room has at least one plant. I get super giddy when we go into home improvement stores and always end up in the garden section. I just love the feeling of having a small piece of the outdoors that is living, breathing and thriving in our home. We skipped the spring planting fever last year since we had a newborn, so our days were filled with afternoon naps, neighborhood walks, midnight feedings, and the sweetest baby cuddles. So I a beyond excited about the prospect of spring planting, a huge vegetable garden, and sprucing up some of our outdoor spaces this year! Our style is a mix of rustic farmhouse with modern influence, and here are some of my inspirations:

One of the things I really want is a lovely, dedicated space for our hose since we use it every day for watering the back patio and for the garden. Thinking we can possible recreate this holder with some antlers and spray paint.

We have a large brick fireplace whose back is the center of our patio, so we are thinking of a vertical garden to utilize that space. I haven't decided if I want to use it for herbs or succulents, but I love the mix of colors and textures in this photo. I am thinking all greenery for the back porch with a mix of succulents, an assortment of ferns, and some ground covers like creeping jenny. 

Our front entryway needs some serious love after we mowed down all of the bushes that were obstructing the view of the house. I am dreaming of a hydrangea hedge, propagated from our  beautiful blue hydrangea. So gorgeous!

Another small project is sprucing up the chicken coop by adding a few window boxes. I'm thinking creeping jenny to trail along the front, sprinkled with dandelions and maybe hostas, since those are some of the girls' favorite treats. :)

And if we are dreaming a little bigger, I'd love to have a privacy screen at the end of our patio and a side entrance to the backyard with a garden gate.

All these and more, here. Happy Spring!