It’s the Work of Gardening That Matters Most

Our mild winter here at Maplehurst in Pennsylvania is giving way to an early spring. Which means–I already feel behind.

In my imagination other gardeners find nothing but peace and happiness in their gardens. I find those, too. At times. But I also find a great deal of worry, stress, and general rushing-around. That probably tells you more about me than my garden.

Today, one of the first days of the year when I was really back into my garden, I felt those old familiar feelings. There’s so much to do! I’ll never get to everything! Why is my garden so out of control?

It’s one thing to feel that way at the height of summer. It’s perhaps expected that we’ll feel that way once the weeds get well and truly going. But early March? When only the tips of a few tulips are poking out of the ground? Even I knew that my thought pattern was ridiculous. Keep going this way, I recognized, and I was in for months of stress rather than joy.

That’s when it hit me: if gardening was all about the outcome, then I would go on feeling frenzied and worried and rushed. Because the perfect garden of my dreams really is beyond my limited human capacity to create.

But does that mean there’s no point? That I should simply give up? Perhaps take up some less taxing hobby?

But no. I could never do that. I will go on gardening because deep down I know that it isn’t the final “product” that matters most. In fact, a garden is never final in any way because it changes with every passing moment. The light shifts. A breeze picks up. A petal drops.

Gardening is about the process. It’s about the journey. And truly, for me, it is all about the work. It’s the tending, the cultivating, the digging. It’s dirt under my nails, and aching muscles, and a chance to get out of my head and reconnect with the earth.

Gardens are wonderful. But gardening is a daily miracle.

What a gift.


Posted on

March 9, 2020


  1. Shelly

    I realized I was behind today when I asked a gardener at our local nursery when I should cut back my roses. Everyone was saying wait until March. But they already have beautiful red leaves showing new growth on several stems. He said not to prune them now. I should’ve done it back in Jan/Feb. Oh well. Live and learn. In the US, I always cut them back at the end of the year but in the UK, I’m still learning.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Shelly, I get this! I had such a hard time adjusting my gardening timeline when I lived in Floriday. Although I believe the advice you received is absolutely correct, I will just say that it is always okay to prune out dead, damaged, or diseased wood. Fortunately, roses can do just fine without pruning! If in doubt, don’t prune, rather than do. I’m sure you’ll have beautiful blooms!


Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest