If you aren’t home very much because you travel, work or commute a lot of hours, it can be hard to justify having and caring for plants or a yard. I’m here to tell you that it just may be the thing you need in your life.
I know you’re thinking, “Annick, like I need another thing to do or take care of!”
Hear me out on this.
When you spend little time at home, it can lead to feeling ungrounded and disconnected from your environment and community. In addition to your health, fitness, and relationships; these things are integral to living a full life.
I spend a lot of time on the road, which means some months I may sleep only seven nights in my own bed. I love my home, but I don’t have much time to enjoy it. I’m also in a rental and have been looking for a house to buy for the past two years. As a result, it has been important to me to find ways of grounding myself in a life that is constantly untethered.
I love gardening, landscape architecture, and all things verdant. My Maman has a wicked green thumb and I would like to think that I inherited that from her. Although, you don’t need a green thumb to have plants. Throughout college and my twenties, I would have plants in my various apartments. She helped me choose types that would sustain little watering and low light conditions; often times sending me home from holidays with plants she had potted for me. I have learned a lot about gardening from her and from my own trial and error. The great thing about plants is if you kill one or several, you can just buy another!
In my current rental, I have a few garden containers that I plant ever year. Each season, I look forward to going to my favorite local nursery and picking out my theme for the year. It gives me a creative outlet and allows me to play with the colors outside my monotone rental. It also becomes a topic of conversation with my neighbors. Someone always stops me to ask what a particular plant is or to say how nice the planters look. It is a common bond among some neighbors and now we share plants or gardening tips with each other. It makes me feel like I am part of a special community.
A few years ago, when I was burned out from travel and feeling overwhelmed with everything going on in my life, I decided not to plant anything. I was barely taking care of myself and felt like I had no energy to think about anything else. I was caught in major negative thinking- “What difference does it make whether or not I plant anything? Its not like anyone even cares about this except me. I won’t even be around to water them.” At the time, I was questioning a lot about what “home” really meant. So, I didn’t plant anything and flew off to my next trip.
A funny thing happened. Some damn plants started to grow.
I couldn’t believe it! They were volunteers from the previous year and filled my containers all by themselves. At the time, I could not have cared less. Yet, every time I came back, they would be bigger and more beautiful. So, of course I had to start watering them. If I was gone for a while, they would miraculously be fine when I got back. (I think my neighbor and landlord were watering them.)
Walking up to my door after a long trip, they made me so freakin’ happy! It was a like a little team saying- “Go Annick! Don’t give up! Things are going to beautiful!!!”
How could that not inspire me?
Over that season, things did get a little better. It took time and nurturing for both the plants and myself. Those damn plants gave me a real sense of being grounded even when I was questioning what “home” was. Like it or not, they were going to have my attention.
The idea of “home” is a tricky subject. For some people it means family, warmth, shared meals, a perfect bed, a physical place, pets, etc. For a traveler or displaced person, there can be a deep sense of homesickness if “home” is attached to outward things and people. It took me a long time to truly understand the saying-
Home is where the heart is.
If we look outward to be satisfied in life, we will continually be disappointed. We cannot control who will be home when we want them to. (divorce, sickness, death) We also cannot always control what happens to our homes. (storms, flooding, war) “Home” needs to come from within. It is only what we create it to be. If it comes from within, you will always be home.
Since then, I have continued to plant my containers yearly. See top photo for this year’s theme of black and white. Every time I walk up to my door, they still make me happy. They’re my first greeting and farewell. While I am away, I know the BF won’t remember to water them, so I leave two full watering cans outside. Again, miraculously they are fine when I get home. I don’t plant too much that I feel overwhelmed taking care of them. I plant just enough to spend a few hours one weekend buying and planting them. The rest of the season is spent just watering them. However, the return from them is priceless. Just like the roots they spread, the damn plants keep me grounded.
I encourage you to plant something so you can watch it grow and change over the seasons. Mother Nature is amazing. Adding a touch of beauty to your home may inspire you to be home more often. At the very least, it will get you outside to take a break and water them. The added benefits are fresh air, calm, and beauty. It is worth the effort even if you feel like you can’t do it. And if you kill them, compost them and buy some news ones!
Let me know what you think about gardening in the comments below.
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