Deep Gardening

Aspects of life can be superficial or aspects of life can be deep. Deep is a synonym for meaningful. The art and science of gardening has had an ancient history of being a deep and meaningful part of human life.

Gandhi has said to forget to dig the earth is to forget ourselves. In the twilight of Thomas Jefferson’s life, he mused that although he was an old man, he was but a young gardener.

In an era of high technology and complicated lives, there are practical steps that humans can take that can nurture and aid our journey through life. Gardening is such a practical endeavor. Gardening can enrich the body and soul with nourishment and beauty.

Harvard’s Howard Gardner is a proponent of recognizing multiple intelligences. His theory notes well-accepted intelligences such as verbal and mathematical skills. Gardener has broadened his theory of multiple intelligences by adding an intelligence that embraces humanity’s connection to nature. He refers to this as naturalistic intelligence. Naturalistic intelligence refers to such important skills as the ability to appreciate and enjoy the natural world. Gardening is a way for all humans to practice this intelligence.

The term deep has been applied to the science of ecology. The central idea of Deep Ecology is that we are part of, rather than separate from, the earth. The Gaia Hypothesis states that the earth is alive and that we are part of it. The namesake for an important American city Chief Seattle said in 1854 “We are part of the earth and it is part of us.”

The term deep can also be applied to the art and science of gardening. Gardening is a meaningful activity that enriches the lives of humans.

The preeminent biologist EO Wilson has brought back sociologist Erich Fromm’s concept of biophilia. Biophilia is the love of life. This love of life can be practiced first hand by gardening.

Gardening gives us the ability to immerse ourselves in life in positive ways. Gardening is not only a metaphor for life it can also be an important part of life itself. Humans are cognitive and emotional beings. Gardening is both cognitively and emotional rewarding.

An important aspect of naturalistic intelligence is participation in the natural world. This participation can be as simple and as important as planting a seed and nurturing it through germination and maturation. Seeing things grow enhances our life experience. Jane Goodall’s recent book Seeds of Hope reinforces the connection humans have to plants. This connection runs deep and is an important part of our archetypal lives. Our connection to plants and their role as part of our life experience may be enmeshed in our genetic makeup.

Recipient of the Audobon Medal Richard Louv has written about Nature-Deficit Disorder. Other recipients include Rachel Carson and Robert Redford. Louv quotes the New York Times’ support of green proposals to memorialize the Ground Zero site at the World Trade Center in as “ample proof of the power of landscape to transform a scarred and haunted place.”

Gardening is an activity that serves to deepen our life experience. All humans can participate in small or large ways. Plants can live with us in our houses. Our yards can contain a garden or be a garden. Many towns and schools are establishing community gardens as a way for people of all ages to participate in the value of gardening.

Aspects of life can be superficial or they can be deep and meaningful.

The concept of deep gardening entails the value and need to practice gardening. Humans are part of nature. We model ourselves when we model nature through gardening.