Parting Thoughts

The Joys of Gardening

Posted 12 May 2013

The past six months have been perhaps the most challenging time in my life, from moving my house and reinventing my business to the death of my mother and step-father.

Working in my garden has been immensely helpful in preserving a semblance of sanity, and I’ve found myself pondering why it is so satisfying.

Creating things has always been a driving force in my life, whether it’s a book, a website, a computer program, a business, or a garden. There is a special quality to gardening, though, that feels very different from these other activities.

The big difference is that the garden does so much on its own. As the gardener, I don’t need to design the flowers, or understand their inner workings. For a few dollars, I can bring home a six-pack from the nursery with little plants that embody millennia of evolution. Only a basic understanding of the plant’s needs is required; the plants do all the "thinking" on their own and grow from little seedlings into spectacular creations.

With all of my other projects, virtually all of the creation process is up to me (and my colleagues, if a team is involved). Very little happens on its own. This is the big difference with gardening: it taps into the wonders of nature, and one needs only to guide it along. In a very real sense, the garden creates itself, and I am just the curator.

Gardening provides an unending stream of surprises, many of them pleasant ones. I could never design or create from basic components the flowers, fruits, and vegetables that plants so effortlessly produce. With some basic physical labor, a little tending, and a minimum of thinking, I get to enjoy these wondrous creations.

The world of the web, as much as I enjoy it, is an entirely man-made place. While it has many intriguing aspects and creating things on the web can be very satisfying, it can never provide the same sort of satisfaction as watching a garden grow.