A Garden with a New Car Smell

Barb Mrgich
Adams County Master Gardener

I was washing my car the other day, and I got to thinking. I love the feeling I get when I get into a nice clean car. A dirty car might get you where you want to go, but there's a special feeling of satisfaction when you slide behind the wheel of a newly cleaned vehicle, which can only be trumped by the smell of a brand new car. I think most people can probably relate to that feeling.

As a gardener, I get that same special feeling when I walk through my neatly tended gardens. If your nice clean car has a small ding in the finish, it upsets you, even though it is barely noticeable to anyone else. That's how I feel when I see a weed in my garden. Any good gardener can glance at a bush and immediately spot the one or two leaves that don't belong there and know itís a weed. The good gardener will reach in and pull it out. An obsessed gardener will reach in and pull out that unwanted weed even if it's not her shrub . . . . like maybe in a restaurant parking lot. And her husband will lovingly ask, "Are you nuts??" To which she will reply, "Well, it looked awful."

And speaking of that feeling of satisfaction, how about when you go out after a good rain, firmly but gently grasp the base of a wild onion or thistle, and feel those roots release as you slide it out of your garden, bulb, roots and all.

Everyone needs a special place to go where life stresses can disappear for at least a little while. It has to be a place that is peaceful, familiar, and congers up good memories. Recent studies have shown that gardening absolutely tops the list for therapeutic activities and environments.

There is nothing I love better than walking out the door and into my garden at 6:00 a.m. on a summer morning. The air is cool and clear and still. The birds are busy chirping all around, the colors of the flowers are clean and bright, and the curves of the garden lines look oh, so peaceful.

Whether I sit down on a patio chair and breathe it all in or get to work pulling weeds, deadheading and trimming, I am in my heaven on earth. Many people associate this wonderful, peaceful feeling with water which is one reason the beach is such a popular place. There are those who love to sit on the beach for hours just watching the waves rolling in. Quietly paddling a kayak around the lake in the cool early morning while searching the skies for our resident Bald Eagles does it for many of my friends here in Lake Meade.

Communing with nature in one way or another is one of the best ways to reduce stress and ease pain. Studies have shown that hospital patients who have access to an outside area or can at least view nature heal faster and require less pain medication. We can only begin to regenerate and heal when we feel relaxed and safe.

So the next time you are feeling depressed, worried, sad, or just plain grumpy, try taking a stroll through a garden, a hike in the woods, or a walk on the beach. Breathe nature in and pollutants out. Plant some flowers or a tree. Plant some native plants and get the additional joy of observing the butterflies and hummingbirds they will attract.

Take a drive in the country in your nice, clean car. Take the time to enjoy whatever it is that fills you with that special feeling of joy and satisfaction. For me it's the beauty of nature, the uniqueness of each flower, the sweet smell of the soil. Speaking of smells, I just finished mulching my garden. Now I have a garden with a new car smell!

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