By Christina Cannady | Photographer
April is National Lawn and Garden Month. This month signifies spring, new life and opportunity. Many say gardening and taking care of plants is a way to provide a sense of responsibility, accomplishment and it’s good for your overall health and well-being. Following the efforts of the National Garden Bureau in the 80s to legislate a National Garden Week, in 1986, President Reagan proclaimed the week of April 13 as National Garden Week.
“Gardening is a wholesome avocation that encourages appreciation for nature and concern for the preservation and enhancement of our environment. It prompts a genuine respect for those who work in agriculture today. Gardening, above all, provides a special source of fulfillment when foresight, patience and collaboration with soil and sunlight finally are repaid by lovely flowers and luscious harvests,” Reagan said in his proclamation.
In 2002, the National Gardening Association extended the week-long appreciation to the full month of April. Today, April is still a time for people to enjoy the spring blooms, soak up some vitamin D and get active outside. Especially passing the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are more interested in gardening now than ever before.
Emily Finstad is an employee at local nursery, Bonnie’s Greenhouse, she has been there for a year. She shared some insight about the pandemic and how quarantine affected the business.
“People were home and so they decided to start redoing their yards, and a lot of people started gardening. We had a ton more people,” Finstad said. “People wanted their houses to look pretty and have something to take care of. It was just crazy at the beginning of the pandemic and it’s kept up since then too.”
Senior lecturer of political science and director of international studies, Dr. Ivy Hamerly has been gardening as long as she has lived in Waco, that’s about 12 years. With her skills learned from her great grandmother, she said she grows peaches, blackberries, green onions, oregano and much more.
Upon moving to Waco, she learned there are two different growing seasons here. Hamerly said becoming familiar with them was important, as she learned them, she developed a deeper sense of place.
Dallas sophomore Mackinlee Harris said she started gardening when she was nine years old. She said she enjoyed how having plants felt like bringing nature to her. During the pandemic, she said people turned to gardening as a sense of peace.
“It was a source of relaxation and hope,” Harris said. “When I say ‘hope’ I mean mother nature, God, whoever you want to give credit to, that things will heal in time.”
Hamerly compared her love for gardening to the Genesis account of creation.
“It’s a way to sort of connect with God. You have to be willing to cut things down, you have to be willing to prune and it just feels like it’s a good way to grow as a person,” Hamerly said. “I do feel like we were made to be outside and be working the soil, it’s just very calming and energizing. It’s very centering.”
Harris explained that as a busy student, it can be difficult to stay in touch with nature. However, she said having and taking care of plants provides an anchor to nature, filters the air in her apartment and makes her living space more calming.
“I personally have gained mental stability from my plants and loads of knowledge about different types of species of plants. I truly love my plants and find so much joy every time I look at them. I receive serenity every time I care for them,” Harris said.
Finstad provided some tips for those who are thinking of gardening, but aren’t sure where to start. Although it can be fun to pick out plants first, she said it’s important to figure out what you can successfully grow with the area you have to work with.
“Do research before you start. Figure out what kind of sunlight you have in your yard and what kind of soil you have. But really, don’t think too much about it. Just have fun with it. Just to know a little bit of the basics before you start would be helpful,” Finstad said.
Whether you have 10 acres to grow an orchard, or one windowsill to grow a succulent, Finstad said having and growing plants provides a wealth of benefits both mentally and physically. Take advantage of April as National Lawn and Garden Month to learn more about gardening and perhaps take up the hobby yourself.
“Plants just make you happy. I think that it’s probably one of the best hobbies to have because not only are you active but you’re outside and just enjoying the sun,” Finstad said. “Just being able to take care of something and making something beautiful.”