Sunday 21 July 2013

Happy smiley people ...

I have just read that research proves that gardeners are happier than most non-gardeners. Ok, I think I only read it on Yahoo news, but if they say it is proved by scientific research then it must be right !

So, what makes us so happy and smiley ?

I think there are lots of reasons, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

For me, the sense of purpose is one of the fundamentals of gardening. Life is never pointless or boring, because gardeners always have a long 'To do' list which they never complete. The length of the list is what gets me up in the morning, as there is an urgency about gardening tasks, they just can't wait ! Leave your seedlings in the seed tray too long and they go leggy and yellow (trust me !).  My first waking thought is often a gardening thought, about what I need to do that day, or a sudden idea about something new I can try, or some cuttings to take, seeds to sow ... and so it goes !

Happiness springs from contentment, a deep, core contentment, which, I believe comes in part, from experiencing the passing of the seasons, the turning of the year. When your hands are in the soil every day you are inevitably closely tuned to those tiny changes. I love the cyclical feel of it all, and the fact that our ancestors have done these same tasks for hundreds and hundreds of years. It is not just 'weather' you experience, but seasons and all that implies.

People who don't garden, who regard it as a chore, look askance when the word 'exciting' is used in a gardening context, but it IS exciting ! The first shoots in a seed tray, the first rose, the first swallow... There is excitement in the planning and the execution of a garden, it is just not instant gratification. Getting excited about the small things in life adds to the  general happiness factor.

Gardeners are always optimistic, even in the worst of seasons , always hoping that things will be better in the next day, next month, next season. If we weren't optimistic we would pop down to Sainsburys and buy a punnet of strawberries, because if we costed our time, it would probably be the sensible thing to do . Watering can half full rather than half empty ! Thinking the best tends to lead to positive, happy thoughts rather than negative ones.

Nurturing is what we do, always thinking about our plants and giving them what they need. Growing  things needs time and care, so gardeners usually have time to stop and smell the roses while they ponder on the blackspot! Satisfaction comes from successful nurturing, and from that success comes happiness.

There is little competition or ego in gardening, as it is often a solitary occupation, done for personal satisfaction and not for monetary gain. As such it reduces the stress found in other areas of life like work. Nothing is better therapy than an hour in the garden after a stressful workday. The peace, broken only be birdsong, and (in our garden) the church bells ringing out the hour, are as effective as a strong g. and t. !

I have a theory that gardeners are happier because they give a lot - seeds, advice, produce, young plants ... it is just that sort of thing. You give freely of what you have, and then it is reciprocated ! Today we opened our garden and had lots of lovely people to chat to. One woman asked if we were selling raspberries, and I said we weren't. but that she was welcome to pick as many as she wanted. As she left  with her punnets of raspberries she said that she was going home to make me a Pimms cake. A Pimms cake ! I didn't even know you could put it in cakes, but it has to be the best invention since sliced bread.  She was true to her word and delivered a truly magnificent cake the next day, with a smile, and the recipe written in a card.

Maybe another reason for our huge happiness is that we are healthy. Lungfuls of fresh air, and long periods of physical work may not be an aerobic workout, but it does promote a healthy lifestyle.

So, what paragons we gardeners are - nurturing, healthy, optimistic , generous, driven, relaxed and ... pretty damn perfect ! Or maybe it's the Pimms cake which keeps us smiley !

nb Photos are random ones of the garden taken after Open Day because that is the only time when there are NO weeds !


  1. Hi, Jane!
    Lovely post! Many really true thoughts about gardeners: plants and seeds, flowers and weeds, etc. I agree with you completely.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog!

  2. Hi Nazeda . Thanks for your comments. If being a gardener means that people bake Pimms cakes for you, then I am all in favour !

  3. Good job nailing the joy and satisfaction of the garden. The photos are awesome-- love the glass houses too. It's a beautiful space and you are giving it the loving care it deserves! Your gardening style is one I completely appreciate.

  4. Such a great post, Jane. I love your garden!
    And you're absolutely right about that long 'To Do' list keeping us up and going. That, and the cakes :)

  5. Thanks Sunita - will report back about the cake !

  6. Dear Jane, I concur with you aon all points. Gardeners generally find great delight in the environment and are optimistic people. They are thankful for life's little mercies. The garden is stunning.

  7. Thanks Stiletto. I think finding pleasure in the small things is so important, you are right.


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I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...