I don’t know what it is about a garden that has always drawn humans to them. But they’ve always been very popular, and an integral part of peoples’ lifestyles. Most religions feature gardens as the settings for some of the biggest events According to Christianity, humanity was started in a garden and the son of God was resurrected in a garden. The Buddhist build gardens to allow nature to permeate their surroundings. Almost every major palace and government building has a garden. But what’s so great about them? They’re just a bunch of plants, after all.
Of course, the reasoning is fairly obvious behind why people grow food in gardens. It’s to eat! If you live off the fat of the land and actually survive on stuff from your garden, it’s easy to understand the reasoning. But I’m thinking about those people who plant flower gardens just for the sake of looking nice. There’s no immediate benefit that I can see; you just have a bunch of flowers in your yard! However, after thinking extensively about the motivation behind planting decorative gardens, I’ve conceived several possible theories.
I think one of the reasons people love gardens so much is that while we have a natural desire to progress and industrialize, deep within all of us is a primal love for nature. While this desire might not be as strong as the desire for modernism, it is still strong enough to compel us to create gardens, small outlets of nature, in the midst of all our hustle and bustle. Since being in nature is like regressing to an earlier stage of humanity, we too can regress to a time of comfort and utter happiness. This is why gardens are so relaxing and calming to be in. This is why gardens are a good place to meditate and do tai chi exercises. A garden is a way to quickly escape from the busy world.
I’ve thought at times that perhaps we as humans feel a sort of guilt driving us to restore nature and care for it. This guilt could stem from the knowledge that we, not personally but as a race, have destroyed so much of nature to get where we are today. It’s the least we can do to build a small garden in remembrance of all the trees we kill every day. It’s my theory that this is the underlying reason for most people to take up gardening as a hobby.
Gardening is definitely a healthy habit though, don’t get me wrong. Any hobby that provides physical exercise, helps the environment, and improves your diet can’t be a negative thing. So no matter what the underlying psychological cause for gardening is, I think that everyone should continue to do so. In the USA especially, which is dealing with obesity and pollution as its two major problems, I think gardening can only serve to improve the state of the world.
Of course I’m no psychologist; I’m just a curious gardener. I often stay up for hours wondering what makes me garden. What is it that makes me go outside for a few hours every day with my gardening tools, and facilitate the small-time growth of plants that would grow naturally on their own? I may never know, but in this case ignorance truly is bliss.