I have always admired homes with lush green yards, beautifully manicured hedges with bright pops of color from flowers that had been neatly planted and carefully maintained. You know, the house, the one you picture as your FOREVER home looking like. But…then we moved on post.
After 10+ years of on-post living, where we always erroneously believed each duty assignment would be shorter than it is, a certain mentality has crept in. I began telling myself “people who live on-post don’t waste energy on gardening!” And when I would see my neighbors plant beautiful flowers by their doors I would think they were crazy for even trying! But I secretly wished I too would be “crazy” like them! I wanted my own beautiful flowers and I really wanted to grow my own vegetables! So, when we received orders to move to a new duty station I decided to change my mindset! I would be one of those “crazy neighbors” and no matter how long we were at the next duty station, I would make this our - however temporary - “forever home” and I would garden!
I had talked to a friend about this and as a going away gift she gave me seed packets for cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce as well as a variety of brightly colored flowers and told me she expected to see them planted and thriving once we got settled in our new home. I was so excited! I carried the packets around in my purse for a month (mainly because I was afraid I would lose them in the packing and unpacking process), but I loved seeing them in my purse and when the moving stress got a little much I would think of how fun it was going to be to have flowers and plants! I talked about it with my husband and children and everyone got really enthusiastic about it along with me!
After about a month in our new home things started feeling less chaotic and we all were anxious to get the seeds planted and the garden started so we made a trip to Target where we purchased a Burpee Seed Starting kit, a little watering can and a small bag of soil. We got home and started the kit by watering the “super growing pellets” and everyone “ooohed” and “ahhhhed” as they expanded into dirt! We planted the seeds and labeled our plots with what was planted. And then we waited…the anticipation killed us! When were they going to start growing? How long until we saw something? The kids were a little bummed because there were no blooms yet so we loaded up again this time heading to the closest Wal-Mart Garden Center and purchased 3 hanging flower pots, and 9 little pots of flowers, we got more soil, gloves and a little shovel too! We got them home and began to care for them as they had been pretty neglected in the gardening center and were thrilled over the next few days to have them perk right up and look so pretty! Every day I checked my little box of seeds and I am embarrassed to admit how excited I got when I saw little green leaves emerge! When my husband came home from work I would make him look at their progress and he would laugh at my enthusiasm!
I began to really love these little plants and looked forward to watering them everyday. I even started watching YouTube videos on how to better care for them. It was silly, but caring for these little plants was bringing me a lot of joy! There have even been studies to link gardening to mental health and one such study found that gardening leads to decreased cortisol levels and positive moods which can “promote relief from acute stress.” It was just the thing I needed after an exceptionally stressful PCS. Caring for my little plants on the front porch was even helping me meet new people. I sit outside with my son and as he plays I water and prune the little plants and passersby say hi, talk about how pretty the plants are and offer little bits of advice. It is so fun! We are all really enjoying it and this new place is feeling more like “HOME” than anywhere we’ve been before. Maybe gardening is what makes it so, putting in that little extra bit of care makes it feel like it could be Forever.