The Inner Garden

Late summer is a golden time for American gardeners, when their love and nurture of their plants are requited with whiz-bang vegetal yields in the American outdoor living room. This continuing harvest, amidst the elegiacally shortening daylength and fading daylight between the June solstice and September equinox, delivers on spring’s joyful promises and continues into early autumn, or what we call a “second summer”.

Our company annually surveys thousands of gardener-customers, leading off with the most important question, “Why do you garden?” This year’s majority of new answers shocked us: for the first time ever most of our customers prioritized ethereal and emotional rewards from their garden over the tangible and down-to-earth reasons such as home-grown flavor, abundant yields and solar-powered savings.

Today’s customers tell us that what motivates them to garden are non-material benefits floating like a halo over the vegetable cornucopia. Most frequent is “a sense of peace”, followed by “tranquility”, “eases my heart”, “reminds me of childhood”, and others including, “my own paradise” and “my Zen time”. My favorite new category pertains to love: “I garden because I love it”, “I get to love my plants”, “I love to love my garden”.

American gardening is undergoing a transformation, a horticultural tectonic shift. Gardeners are gardening primarily for peace of mind, meditative space, a sense of a higher power, and an antidote to anxiety. They harvest extradimensional benefits that constitute an inner world, a sense of a greater life beyond material existence. Here is everything missing we shall never find in our digital existence: a deep sense of satisfaction of the familial love plants inspire.

Our core customers, numbering in the millions, have begun to dwell in both an inner and outer garden. The first seeded the second—you could say that the outer garden has finally done its job: the new inner benefits have fully flowered and fruited in the gardener’s consciousness.

Simultaneously, recent quantum leaps in personal telecommunications have spawned a wasteland of unsocial media and public-private fantasy worlds. By forcing us to focus on our backyards, the pandemic lockdowns both rehabilitated those suffering from screen addiction by introducing them to a new world of nature, and inspired existing gardeners to expand. Voilà, 18.3 million new gardeners in 2022 after which, one year later, the inner garden makes its debut. Check it out for yourself.

Once finished with the day’s tasks, take a seat in your garden, be it on the fragrant earth, a stump, or a lawn chair. Observe the life of the life around you. Your thinking soon drifts from specifics—plant life, sunlight, watering, pruning, deadheading—into a boundaryless zone where time and place flow together. The garden is the least alienating place there is, an enchanted realm where we ourselves take root, grow and blossom.

Let us hope that both the outer and new inner garden seed and give rise to a third horticultural dimension where we share our love and knowledge of our gardens with our families, neighbors, and communities across the world. Personal growth, indeed.

A version of this article appeared in The Sacramento Bee and the Altoona Mirror.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 8th, 2023 at 1:21 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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