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Worried? Get in the Garden

Worried? Get in the Garden

Kathy Renwald

Gardening helps everything. Your physical well-being, mental health, the environment, the list is long. It’s good that the province of Ontario is letting garden centres come to life. Many people go to garden centres as if they were public gardens, strolling, smelling, detaching from the worries of the world.

Vintage postcard of the RBG Rock Garden

  Gardening combats isolation. There’s a lot of talk about the vulnerability of people who are isolated during the pandemic.  If you are able bodied, or even close to it, gardening will put you in touch with your neighbours. Unless you live in a secluded mansion, chances are you’ll see other humans when you garden.

  Where I live, the front garden is steps from a major street.  I lean my tools against my neighbour’s work-horse truck, while I hack away. People walking by stop and chat, they ask questions, give opinions, and mostly it’s a pleasant experience.  

Gardening near the sidewalk where spontaneous conversation erupts

  Because Bayfront Park and Pier 4 Park are open, a lot of new people are coming to my neighbourhood. As they walk by and marvel at a part of the city they have never seen, I offer history lessons about the North End, the harbour, and the great stock of old houses here.

  Gardening is an isolation buster.

  The pandemic has opened up a bucket of worries for the masses. Climate change concerns percolates in tandem with Covid-19. On a micro scale I look around Hamilton and say plant more trees and gardens. Reduce hard surfaces and the heat they radiate, and the way they funnel water into the combined sewers system.

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    Smart people have a strong desire to garden against great challenges. In front of an auto wreckers on Bay Street North several years ago you could see a garden of desperate ingenuity.  Someone was living in that substandard building, but they made a garden on the pavement. Flowers, grasses, and pots amidst a Harley Davidson and a backhoe. Since then, a fire has destroyed most of the building and the burned out shell glowers behind a metal fence that sits just a couple of feet from the sidewalk. That’s bad for our mental health.

A garden in from of an auto wrecker on Bay Street North
As it is now, after a fire

  Take a walk, or a drive if you must, and look at the genius of gardeners. You’ll see a paved front yard on Cannon Street transformed by pots of flowers, vegetables and herbs. In the Durand area, whimsical teapots appear in a tulip filled garden.

Pots transform a paved front yard
The uplift a garden creates

  Gardens make us feel good, but they are not frivolous. They are essential

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