I get such joy from working in the garden, I often wonder, “Why doesn’t everyone want to do this?”
Think about it. People love a garden. They drive for miles to visit parks so that they can enjoy the luscious green and sniff that fresh air. Botanical gardens in nearly every major city and plenty of smaller ones attract thousands of visitors each year yearning to gaze upon the beauty of the flowers. (Millions on the days I’m there!) People are instant friends with vegetable gardeners in their offices who bring in baskets of their bounty to share. (“Zucchini anyone?”) They buy gardening magazines by the bazillions. They’ll slow down as they drive by to admire the gardens they pass on the way to work.
And although most folks dutifully march outside to mow the lawn on Saturdays and maybe even do a bit of weed whacking to keep the home owners’ association Nazis at bay, few people actually rush home from work to deadhead their dahlias and turn their compost. I’m talking about creating the kind of garden that makes people want to linger. At least not the people that I know.
So why don’t more people actually create their own oases of beauty at home?
When visitors see Bumblebee the first thing most people usually ask is, “How much time does all this take?” (I suspect they’re also wondering, “How much does she spend on this gardening hobby of hers?”)
I used to believe one of the biggest hurdles for most people is time. The desire is there, but most folks just can’t seem to work it into their schedules because we’re just too darned busy working to buy things. After all, the time gurus tell us that as Americans, in particular, we are possession rich and time poor.
Climbing Roses at Bumblebee – April 2008
But wait a minute. Think about this little nugget from the 2006 Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
On an average day, nearly every American age 15 and older–a whopping 95%–had several hours of leisure activity. Men had 5.7 hours of leisure time and women had 4.9 hours of leisure time. (I won’t even go into that glaring disparity right now.) That’s every single day. But for both men and women, half of that leisure time activity was spent watching television!
That means that most
Well, that explains it. Or at least part of it.
Sure, not everyone is as hepped up to sweat in the sun while ruining their manicure as I am. And not everyone has the space to garden. Some people are not able to manage the physical demands of gardening. A whole lot of people have no idea even how to get started since most of us no longer live near the grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles who were traditionally our garden mentors. And I recognize that gardening on a grand scale can be costly, although there are plenty of budget alternatives to beautify the yard.
But for quite a lot of people, it’s mostly a matter of preferring to watch “American Idol” or “Dancing With the Stars.” Ultimately, it seems, Americans are making choices to tune out rather than to engage and create beauty right outside their own backdoors.
Sadly for them, these choices won’t amount to much at the end of their days. Our lives are defined by the choices we make. Some of us will know all the winning strategies to be the “Survivor.” And some of us will have lovely gardens, islands of peace, to share with friends and loved ones.