Happiness factor No. 1

Nature and Gardening

Nothing quite manages to make me as happy as the beauty of nature. The forms, the colours and the amazing details are pure perfection. And as spring is about to begin I can feel my spirits lifting just looking at the green coming through. The trees and flowers, the lakes and rivers, mountains and oceans never fail to amaze me.

Growing up in the countryside meant I spent a lot of time outside and developed a fascination with nature. In order to witness nature’s wonders we only have to step outside into the nearest park or garden. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the big fancy holiday in some faraway country. One of my favorite spots is my mum’s garden.

My mum’s garden

Bench

The garden has changed so much over the years. We used to have a lot of tall fir trees that looked as if they would come down in the next storm. As kids we played horses and show jumping there all the time and had a lot of jumps set up between the trees. Much to my disappointment the trees were taken down. Never did I imagine that I would love the development so much and we still have our beautiful old cherry tree and a couple of other trees and shrubs. A bit later we decided to create a pond, so we grabbed some shovels and started the project. We “borrowed” some tadpoles from a pond nearby and soon after we had our very own little frog paradise.

My mum suffers from multiple sclerosis which is affecting her mobility. Her illness slows her down and she gets frustrated but gardening cheers her up greatly and the sound of birds singing and bees buzzing eases the sadness she feels at not being able to do everything she used to do. There is nothing as therapeutic as the peace and quiet of a beautiful natural garden. When we talk on the phone the first thing she says to me at the moment is “I was in the garden all day long and I got so much work done.”

To be honest, I used to hate helping out in the garden when I was younger. I’d much rather spend hours at the stables or meet up with friends. But nowadays gardening is a welcome distraction from my hectic day to day life. I cannot get enough of the different types of flowers coming to life, the bees buzzing from plant to plant and the birds singing. I love digging my hands into the rich dark soil and connecting with earth itself.

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas

I simply love hydrangeas and my mum’s are spectacular. The colors are so vivid and I could take hundreds of pictures. Just looking at them makes me happy. Last weekend I helped removing the dead heads from last year so this year they will be just as magnificent.

“As long as you have a garden you have a future and as long as you have a future you are alive.” From Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden

Pink Rose

Scented English Roses

My mum collects Old English roses and whoever has been lucky enough to catch a whiff of their scent knows what I am talking about. They are little miracles with beautiful petals and names such as Gertrude Jekyll, Winchester Cathedral and so on. When I passed my a-levels my mum planted a rose called Louise Odier for me and it brings me joy every year. It is one of the nicest and most thoughtful presents I ever received.

Natural gardens and wildlife

What I enjoy most about out garden is that it is a very natural and wildlife-friendly one harbouring many different species from hornets over snails and frogs to newts and different kinds of birds like woodpeckers, robins and many more.

So I guess the sheer amount of pictures also reflects how much in love I am with gardens, flowers, animals. 😀 Being outside and connecting with nature calms me and brings me peace and quiet. And every now and then my heart leaps when I discover something new or just observe something special. I learn so much about not only nature but also about myself, about what is important to me and about priorities in life. I learn to be patient, not only with others but also with myself. As much as I love to talk and meet my friends and be social I also enjoy solitude and silence greatly. Something many people are unable to appreciate. I can be alone with myself and I love being alone too. I treasure moments alone in nature and often dream of a simpler life. Maybe one day I will have my own little farm and I will grow my own food and live closer to nature again. Sometimes I have moments in which I would like to sell everything I own and free myself of the shackles of society and live a Thoreau-Walden-type-of-life. Don’t get me wrong I admire the technological advances, being able to take pictures and sharing them with you like I am doing right now, and I enjoy many of the comforts this life brings but sometimes it all just overwhelms me and I think that we all are way too much out if touch with the most important thing in each of our lives – our planet.

My Little Balcony

Since I moved to the city ages ago – first to study and now to work – I had to create my own little oasis of green. I was lucky enough to find an apartment with a cute little balcony and every spring I enjoy turning it into my own little herb kitchen, vegetable patch and bee paradise. It feels as if I have taken a little piece of the countryside and transported it into the city.

Office Garden

Yes, our office has a garden, which means spring and summer lunch breaks are for gardening and playing in the garden. Two years ago it was still overgrown with ivy and other weeds but my colleagues and I started tidying it up and structuring it. My mum gave me many plants and hopefully this will be the first year in which we will reap the fruits of our labour. At least we have our little squirrel always by our side and alongside the robin he is a great help. Ok, so maybe he plants trees everywhere but hey, at least he is doing something!

I guess it is rather obvious now that nature, gardens and gardening make me extremely happy. So I took a little piece of my mum’s garden and my childhood memories with me and reconstructed them on my balcony and in our office garden. We all should have that little something we treasure and preserve it as well as we can.


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