Stop and Smell the Roses

“Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.” -Luther Burbank, American botanist

While walking around my neighborhood, there are several houses I make a beeline toward in order to see what they’ve planted outside. In fact, there are several houses whose yards are so beautiful I plan my walks around seeing them. My friends have received many a Snapchat of the houses I’m particularly impressed by: from flowers to bushes to a cool blue front door. Whether its foliage-heavy paths on white stones or daffodil patches growing beneath a white marble fountain, there’s something to be said about a well-maintained garden.

So this year, I decided to do something new with all the time I had on my hands and get into landscaping. In years past, I’ve spent some summers watering my mom’s flowers (and planting some), cutting the grass, and trimming boxwoods into perfect, pristine cubes. But this year I wanted to go deeper, quiet literally get my hands dirty, and so I went to Home Depot to buy some materials: mulch, garden soil, rosebushes, etc. As I started changing things, I found the front of our house became more reflective of the others I had seen.

I started to get new ideas as I walked my dog or drove through the neighborhood. I saw how river rock could be used to complement certain flowers or make a mailbox stand out. Or how rose bushes, which had for so long gone unmaintained in our own yard, were beautiful if they received proper care. I started identifying the easy-care plants that sprung up in most yards and understood why certain ones could only be found in shady areas. Just by developing an interest in planting in order to kill time, my mind had changed the way it saw things.

And it’s helped a lot, to be quite honest. It’s very hard, I’ve found, to be anxious while digging out patches weedy ground cover, fighting the web of tangled roots every step of the way. The fate of the our country and future seem small while hoeing fresh garden soil into rough, sun-dried ground. And my mind thinks of nothing but the new buds of roses as I stand by the basement window, watering them every other day. There’s some truth in Luther Burbank’s advice on using gardening to decorate the soul: when when you surround yourself with nature and beauty, its hard to be anything but grateful.

Of course, a couple of lilacs and a bag of mulch is not the miracle cure for anxiety or depression. Like gardening, there’s a lot more work to it than that. Our bodies and minds share a lot of similarities to our green-budded buddies. To live, we need light, water, and tender care from those around us. To grow, we also require a safe, stable environment in which we can plant and extend our roots. But unlike flowers, we all have an amazing ability to provide that sort of safety and shelter for others and, when we need it most, ourselves as well. So I hope, before the warm season is over, you get a chance to make it outside. If you have a home of your own, check in on your garden or plant something new. If you don’t, let your feet guide you to witness some natural beauty in a park or outside a business. It doesn’t take much to satisfy our basic need of feeling connected to nature. Sometimes, all you have to do is stop to smell the flowers.

Do you have a home garden or potted plants that you’re proud about? Or maybe there’s a place you always stop in order to admire the landscaping? Share it with us! Send us an email at or comment below for others to see. As always, stay safe and hopeful. Enjoy your weekend!

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