Why I Garden

I always find January and the beginning of February to be a time of reflection of many things but mostly my garden. The garden is looking pretty sad and the seed catalogs may not have come yet. I reflect on the past year and the many before that, and ponder why I can’t wait for Spring to come. I think it started a long time ago.. more than 40 springs ago! I spent many hours with my grandparents in their gardens. It seemed like lots of time preparing, weeding and digging, but I think mostly I enjoyed the fruits of their labors later that summer when we always went home with something! But along the way, I learned so much from them and what it meant to grow your own food. They were from the prairies and that is just what you did! I now understand the generosity that went hand in hand with this process. I still remember seeing the Christmas Rose (Hellebore) blooming in the dreary days after Christmas. My mom still has the original plant and it reminds me of them each year. The sweet little purple Wood Violets (Voila Odorata) and the Hollyhocks (Alcea) from my other grandma that remind me of her every summer…both were always willing to share seeds, extra veggies and their time with others.
Later, spending time each spring with my mom in the local greenhouse, carefully choosing what we would grow that year.
She always let me pick something of my own. The smell of the greenhouses still gives me a thrill and takes me back to those days!  We still talk at great length about what worked the previous year and what would be the colour combination of the hanging baskets, this year!
After a couple of years of formal education in horticulture, I thought I knew all there was to know, as we all do in our 20’s. How times have changed in the garden since then! The thought was GMOs (genetically modified organisms) would save the world and you couldn’t garden without a cocktail of chemicals. Today, we try to grow heritage varieties organically and talk of food security as part of everyday conversation! We are really back to where we started from, like my grandparents. Back to basics…growing food and some flowers because that is what you should do! I would like to encourage everyone to get their hands dirty this spring, even if its in a pot on a balcony. Share the experience with someone and make it part of your life and your legacy. So until next time, dig, dream and enjoy dirty hands!
Shelley Hodgkinson
The Organic Urban Gardener