Opinion: Why Gardeners are the Best People You Will Ever Meet

This is an article in Horticulture Magazine that was brought to our attention by Sheilagh H.

Let’s face it, not all people are equal. Perhaps in the eyes of God. Maybe under the law. But in the court of my opinion, they’re just not. Some are so much better than others—and the best ones are gardeners.

Gardening builds character!

Gardening builds character!

Not new gardeners, God bless them. I’m talking about the battle-tested old guard. Gardeners on their second round of knee replacements. Weathered, worn and wizened types.

Alchemy happens to those who’ve gardened a long time. The audacity to continually shuffle bits of nature around in the face of cold, hard Darwinian reality, hoping only to nurture a small piece of ground into verdant beauty—well, that’ll teach a person. It’ll smooth rough edges and knock chips from shoulders. In the words of every authority figure from my youth, it builds character.

Which is apparently what you’ve got left after your ego has been blown up; your confidence, shattered; your intellect, exceeded; and your body, exhausted. Yet you persevere. And even succeed a little.

Anyone who’s gardened long enough knows what I’m saying. Anyone who’s gardened long enough might call it wisdom.

Being outside with nature is the essential ingredient. Other people nurture. Other people are tested. Nurses, for instance. But too much time inside a hospital might turn the sweetest pea into Nurse Ratched, whereas time outside with the birds, bees and flowers will turn any old jerk into Mr. Green Jeans. Nature reminds us that life is fleeting and of this moment, and it will be here when we’re not. And it will be beautiful just the same. Subconsciously, we garden to find peace, and with enough time working the soil, peace comes.

Yep, gardeners are the best people. They know what they know, and they know that it isn’t even a fraction of all there is to know. And gardeners are okay with that.

Among what they know is this: gardening is a relationship with nature. And the strongest partner in any relationship is the one who needs it less. In other words, nature has the upper hand on us. And gardeners have come to be okay with that, too.

So, if you want your kids to be good people, start them gardening and yell at them if they try to quit. That’s my advice. Getting sued? Forget the lawyer; bring a gardener to court with you. If you’re choosing between two surgeons, choose the one with dirt under his or her nails.

And, for God’s sake, let us make it a law that a gardener is assigned to every elected politician. Wouldn’t we all sleep better knowing that a friendly, weathered sage with bits of mulch and stems in their pockets has got a pair of dirty boots on that person’s desk, and is saying, “Not so fast, Whippersnapper.”