There are few activities that are as healthy for you as gardening. It makes you fit while also being fun and rewarding for mind, body and spirit.
Think about it. Fragrant flowers feed the senses and the soul. Homegrown vegetables feed the family and are delicious and nutritious. Shade trees provide food and shelter for you and the birds while shrubs and colorful perennials give you a gentle workout as you trim branches and deadhead fading flowers.
From early recordings of civilization, man has harvested roots and leaves from the earth to feed himself and help him feel better. it is not simply what is ingested, however, that is good for us. Working in dirt or even viewing a landscape has been proven to assist in the healing process. It’s been shown in studies that patients recover quicker and need fewer pain drugs when their rooms have a view of trees instead of just walls. Plants and flowers have a calming effect on both patients and the rest of us. Caring for and connecting with nature are ways to heal the spirit, too.
Most of us love flowers and plants with fragrance in the landscape. A few unlucky people have allergies to strong smells but most of us can’t help but swoon over a fragrant rose or a bouquet of lilacs. A garden’s fragrance can be as unforgettable as its appearance. The scent of a particular flower can make you remember past times and places. Plant fragrant plants in just a few spots to provide a mystery perfume that wafts through the garden. Plant them in containers to scent a deck or patio or locate them beneath a window and let their aroma drift indoors.
There’s a new Erysimum available that bears bright golden-yellow flowers which are very fragrant. Called Gold Rush, this perennial grows 8" tall and would look great along the edge of a path where its scent could be enjoyed as you walk by. Wallflowers like the sun and deer seem avoid them. Yeah !
Then there’s lightly scented Tulbaghia fragrans. This drought tolerant society garlic has thick, wide leaves and looks quite different than the traditional variety although the flower is similar. The fleshy leaves are deer-resistant,too.
In spring there may be nothing quite as spectacular as a wisteria vine loaded with purple, pink, blue or white fragrant flower clusters covering an arbor or pergola. In San Lorenzo Valley, where I live, you can see them growing high in the trees along Hwy 9. They are true survivors. If you’ve ever tried to get rid of one (heaven forbid) you can attest to their tenacity. In the right spot, their scent is divine.
There are many fragrant native plants, too. Philadelphus or Mock Orange is one of the best, but spice bush, ribes viburnifolium, carpenteria, Ca, rose and some ceanothus are mildly scented, too.
I can’t leave out the old fashion border carnation. Their clove-scented flowers are born in profusion making them a nice addition to the mixed flower border and containers. Cinnamon Red Hots, a newer variety, bears inch wide bright red flowers that attract butterflies and need no deadheading.
So warm up before you grab the spade to prevent injuries. Break up your tasks so you aren’t trying to tackle everything Saturday morning. Remember that tired muscles are more prone to injuries. Plant something to eat that you especially like. And most of all take the time to let the healing powers of your garden do their magic.