Gardening with the sun shining. Bliss. (PS- I don't recommend you wear white to garden in!)

Gardening as therapy

This week, while I was painting, I listened to a little segment on the Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 on ‘Gardening as therapy’.
This was serendipitous as I’ve been planning a blog about gardening and how it relates to painting for a while.
So my ears pricked up.
It was an episode where TV cook Mary Berry (aged 81) was the guest editor (who coincidentally bought greetings cards from me when I was last exhibiting at Chelsea. Name dropper? Moi?!)
The idea was that getting out into the garden, as well as doing some gardening yourself, can have a huge positive mental health benefits.
It makes you feel good.
In fact, so good, that they were interviewing Dr Sam Everington – a GP from London. He’s part of a pilot scheme where Doctors are now doing ‘Social Prescribing’ – able to prescribe things like gardening to their patients to help with their health.
Fascinatingly he (a mainstream GP!) acknowledged that people are often missing the creative side to life which impacts massively on their metal and physical health.

Creativity increases creativity

And it’s true that gardening itself is fundamentally creative.
The act of sowing a seed and having it develop into a plant is about the most perfect creative thing you can do (and it’s so easy).
The satisfaction you get when that seedling sprouts up – let alone when it flowers, is priceless.
And so by gardening your doing something positive for your painting because, with creativity, it tends to be that the more creative you are in one area of life, the more creative you are in others too.

Coming back to being in ‘the moment’

And it’s true that the act of gardening itself is really absorbing – much like painting can be – and can take you back to the moment. Giving you a rest from excessive thinking.
But why is that?

Coming back to your senses

I find the same thing happens to me whether I’m actively gardening or simply sitting in a garden.
I feel calmer. I feel soothed. I feel connected to God/the universe.
I get inspired. Either by the flowers and plants around me, or I have inspired thoughts about what I might like to paint next.
In short – I get into right-brain type thinking.
In the excellent book Tending the Earth. Mending the Spirit: The Healing Gifts of Gardening Connie Goldman & Richard Mahler get to the heart of what’s going on:

In both a literal and figurative way a garden can help us come to our senses. When we step into our gardens, we are submerged in sights, smells, sounds and textures. This is a wake up call for the part of our brain that processes experience directly and intuitively instead of categorising and analysing it in a detached way.

When this part of the brain is stimulated, we tend to become more aware of the sensations and emotions that underlie our busy rational mind. A garden gives us the chance to remain silent and alone with our feelings, to empty the mind of past and present in order to experience more fully the present moment.

So the silence and solitude is key to this.

Which is what makes gardening perfect.
Gardening is usually done alone, for quite long periods, and having your own garden (as opposed to simply visiting a park) can make it easier to spend time alone surrounded by nature.
Weirdo alert: I do sit down on my own at the edges of fields etc on my dog walks sometimes, to feel this peaceful connection. I’ve been known to startle other walkers though- so it’s not ideal!
And there’s no doubt that we are often deprived of this kind of solitude these days.
Some of us aren’t even aware that we need it.
Goldman & Mahler quote author Rick Moody as saying:

People today have a great need to return to the soul. We are so busy, so active, so tied into distraction with our phones, faxes, emails, and appointments that we’re almost never truly quiet. We’re rarely connected to openness. Mediative activities like sewing, quilting, cooking and gardening are very good at manifesting the soul.

A garden to paint

If you’re lucky enough to have your own garden, and you plant it full of the flowers you love the most, you’ll maximise just how inspired and uplifted you’re going to feel there.
And you’ll be able to create many paintings based on the plants you’ve planted.
Artists have a long relationship with painting gardens and none more so than Claude Monet.
I thought I’d share this little video about his gardening. His garden was his exclusive subject for over 20 years and he is quoted as saying “My garden is my most beautiful work of art”:

And a garden to help you paint

As we’ve seen – gardening goes deeper than just subject matter (as I’m willing to bet Monet would have agreed!).
At that deeper level, I really believe that the more time you spend in a garden – in the right-brain/ connected/ peaceful state – the more creative, productive and enjoyable your painting will be.

So, to help improve your painting, can I write you a prescription for gardening?

I’d love to hear about your own experiences of gardening in the comments below. What benefits has it had for you? What links are there to your painting?
Happy painting!

PS – if you’d like a listen to the ‘Gardening as Therapy’ Woman’s Hour item you can find it here (you can hit play and then skip to the section)

  1. Nancy Newman 6 years ago

    Absolutely agree with everything you write about! Gardening, and/or reflecting in nature, instills a deeper sense of the cycle of life. It’s not always about BIG blossoms and perfection. There’s beauty in the dying flower turned seed, a message of hope, a reminder of our impermanence, a call to live life fully in every moment.
    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Shandra Singer 6 years ago

    I was a gardener before I was a painter, and then I was injured and told that my traditional gardening time was over (no more getting down into the dirt). The first thing I wanted to paint was flowers to replace the gardening I had done. So for me now, painting IS my gardening time.

  3. Gloria Ayres 6 years ago

    As I sit here in Spain, the gardens are in full bloom with beautiful colours. I am lucky to live in such a wonderful place. I have been taking photos of as many flowers as I can. However, it is a bit frustrating – I am waiting for my paints to arrive. Then I only have one more problem – how to paint!!!

  4. Catherine 6 years ago

    I have been surprised by how much pleasure I get from my garden. This is the first house with space to have veg etc in the garden and I’m having a lovely time grubbing in the dirt and watching the birds fish the snails out of my raised beds for me. My painting room has a huge window overlooking the garden, which can sometimes be a bit distracting but I wouldn’t change it!

  5. Carole Bowley 6 years ago

    How true your comments about being at one with nature. I love my plants and although my garden is sadly overgrown because of my lack of time, I still find peace and tranquility just looking around and smelling the honeysuckle, which takes me right back to my childhood. That was a time when I would stoop and study all the wildflowers in great detail, (perhaps because I was closer to the ground then), and count stamens and petals just for the sake of it. Oh, what a shameless indulgence! Drawing those flowers was a natural progression. These days we are so very busy with our lives and I sadly let my drawings go by the way side as work, etc took over. Now I am picking it back up with the help if your wonderful site and I am making time to smell the flowers again. It is so relaxing and peaceful and I can recommend it heartily .

  6. Alexia 6 years ago

    Anna, I love this post so much, and have been looking out at our little yard space trying to figure out how to get into gardening as a complete, and I mean COMPLETE beginner. Have decided that this weekend is the weekend for ‘starting my own herb garden’ (cooking (Jamie Oliver recipes in particular) has the same meditative effect, so why not create some of the ingredients for it?!). I’m hoping this will eventually have an opening effect on my painting. So thank you, this is just the nudge I need, I am going to go and stand out in the rain right now!

  7. Madelyn Rutherford 6 years ago

    We have moved back to “my house” after it has been rented and empty for nearly nine years. It took last year to get the house livable with a little bit of garden work but this year we have been really working out there. I have spent the morning watering and feeding and just listening to the birds–feeding the fish and wishing I had a baby goat. We have nine acres and a goat is a most wonderful thing–even something I could paint. I love to see what new bugs we have–yesterday I saw a neon green flying thing and I love to see what has come back from years ago. It is my peace, my joy and sometimes unfortunately my nemesis. But, I love that too. I have to do a program for my garden club in September and you have sparked my imagination about what I am going to do for it.

  8. I am quite the opposite – I have so much solitude that I crave company; however, my garden is sill balm for my spirit. I’ve been a vegetable gardener for 15 years. Now that I paint, I constantly look at plant life in the garden and think “I am going to paint that!” I find this is a wonderful exercise for learning to color match since Mother Nature paints in the most delicious hues!

  9. Terry Mellway 6 years ago

    It is always a beautiful and spiritual experience for me every time I step into a lovely garden. Most of my work has been inspired by my gardens I used to have. We sold our home to spend more time traveling so we wouldn’t have the maintenance but I miss my gardens immensely and try to visit others as often as I can. I will also go to nurseries to take pictures but I have literally thousands in stock from my own gardens over the years. Every day I would get up and do my “walkabout” with my camera and take in all the new blooms and the beautiful, dappled sunlight through the trees and the flowers. Most of my floral works are all done from images of my gardens. I don’t know if I can add images here but I would love to send some to you. They are done, however in coloured pencil but I do watercolour as well and I love your work. It is exquisite Anna.

  10. Anne Arndt 6 years ago

    I moved to the States back in 1980 and have been lucky enough to live in South Florida since 1993. We have a very large garden with lots of tropical flowering trees, shrubs and plants (including lots of orchids that hang under my fruit trees when they are not blooming). I am blessed to find inspiration outside year-round. I only started painting 3 years ago but thoroughly love the time I am able to spend absorbed in watercolor. I really enjoy your monthly news letters and videos. Thank you Anna for your insights.

  11. Denise J. 6 years ago

    Anna, I SO agree with you regarding the effects of not just gardening, but also of just “being” in a garden. Some time ago when my marriage was on the rocks, and I longed for a place of safe solitude and beauty, I would grab up my digital camera and head for the garden centers…just walking among the beautiful colors…being able to inhale the calming fragrance of wet soil, and even allowing myself to walk slowly through the soaking wet pavement where the garden attendants had just been watering, brought me back to my senses…gave me a better perspective of what is lovely, and how to actually hear God speak peace and hope to my heart. After taking photos of almost every lovely flower there, I would return to my studio…refreshed and energized enough to actually draw and paint the flowers I had photographed; allowing the experience to be extended. There is a Bible verse which says: “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” I have since then used that as my reason for going into the garden; either my tiny garden, or huge commercial ones. It works wonders for your soul! Not to mention giving you an abundance of beautiful subjects to paint. Thank you for your words & art!

  12. MARIA CECILIA 6 years ago

    My English is very bad. I want to share some things related to paint and garden. I’m from Colombia, there are no seasons, so we always have many flowers for every day of the year. There is a watercolorist of the last century, born in Moseley, Birmingham, who wrote illustrated a fascinating book about the change of plants and animals in your garden with the changing seasons, she is Edith Holden author of Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. When I saw large painting of Monet in Paris at the Museum de l’Orangerie, which has waves of raindrops I was moved to tears. It is no coincidence that doctors are advising grow a garden, my doctor recommended me to plant some medicinal and aromatic plants that cultivate with love and then used. I am a biologist, I like to paint the leaves emphasizing his veins.

  13. Paulina 6 years ago

    I totally agree with everything you have said! This is so amazing. Monet is my favourite artist and I didn’t know that he was such a keen gardener. I am currently enjoying time in my garden for all the reasons you have said – when I’m in my garden I’m in a totally different space and I too feel connected to nature and feel closest to the great Creator! I have just had a shed installed which is going to be my studio believe it or not and I’m so excited and inspired.

  14. Viv 6 years ago

    We have a beautiful garden and get a great deal of satisfaction from it but my own gardening activity is in a supervisory capacity as I have a bad back – I tell my husband where to plant stuff. We had some gorgeous frilly looking tulips recently and I got some good photos, now I’m struggling to paint them in acrylics and that’s hard enough but not brave enough to try them in watercolours.

  15. Benita Rebecca 6 years ago

    Though i have been into art nearly all my life …. professionally i’m a horticulturist (now i know why!) and I enjoy being in my garden….it is the only place where i just am…..without thoughts like ‘what next’…. 🙂

  16. Sharlea Warner 6 years ago

    I started a garden last year when we purchased our home. At the time I wasn’t painting, but I always took picture of the flowers I grew. I recently started painting, and I’m so excited to go through all my old pictures and find little beauties to paint. My little garden is blooming beautiful roses and lilies this year.

  17. Susan Roberts 6 years ago

    Wierdo alert? No, there is nothing more satisfying than sitting in a quiet spot in the country, watching the grasses blow, the bees buzzing around and seeing how many different species you can see. Most people carry a carrier bag for their shopping – I carry them to sit on the damp ground!!

    I love being in my garden, although I can look at the weeds more than pull them out these days, it is racing away from me, but the foxgloves are seeding all over and I just love watching the bumble bees go right inside their trumpets. I spend too long daydreaming

  18. Pam 6 years ago

    I sat down to paint some wild flowers in France a couple of years ago. True it was on a path but you never see anyone there. We know the area well. Suddenly out of nowhere came two cyclists wanging along at great speed. No time for me to move so they whizzed straight past me and mowed down all the flowers! Moral- be careful where you sit in the countryside!

  19. Wendy Ward 6 years ago

    My mother had a beautiful garden. As a child, I wondered at all the flowers, from large to tiny, at all the roses and the dolls she made me out of hollyhocks. It was wondrous. I think of it often for inspiration. At my house, I have had four trees fall, so for two years the yard has not been cared for. The weeds have taken over and it is in a sorry state. Now that most of the wood is gone, I find I am spending hours of back-breaking work pulling very tall weeds and rotten wood out of my yard so I may plant flowers and a garden again. That really inspires me to want to go back into the house and paint!

  20. TEISSEIRE CHRISTIANE 6 years ago

    I agree ! I’m so peacefull when I take care of my so little garden in South of France.
    Thanks too much Anna , it very interesting.


  21. Julie Fry 6 years ago

    Yes I agree, our garden is quite small, being in the inner ring of the city, but it has developed through a number of phases over the years and is now mature and contains pear trees, a Black Hamburg vine, my husband’s potting shed (which is actually a garden building that looks like a Swiss chalet in which he has his pottery!) and borders of paeony, lupin, aquilegia, roses – a fence full of clematis Montana rubens, just over flowering, and lots of pretty pots! I find it doesn’t take too much effort, it can be weeded in a day if we keep on top, and I love growing things from seed and experimenting. BUT – always, always, my camera or phone camera is coming out to take new close up shots of whatever is in bloom – and you know why that would be! !

  22. Lilia 6 years ago

    That was lovely, thank you. I have a little flower garden in the front of my house with tulips and daffodils in the Spring and right now, there are gorgeous lilies opening each day; June lilies naturally. I take photos daily but there is a spot in my yard when I’m coming back from the walk to the mailbox where I feel the joining of the heat of the sun, the smell of mint in one corner of the yard and roses from another and a hint of past snowballs from the tree-like bush behind me and hot moist grasses that just make me stop and close my eyes for a moment and absorb it all. We all need those moments of connection.
    Thanksgiving Point is another garden I visit with my husband and the tulip festival alone was breath-taking this year. I took over 200 photos there and pulled from them for a painting I just finished, my first watercolor portrait, of my granddaughter from when she was little and in a part of the garden called The Secret Garden.. I’ve a long way to go on capturing the flowers to the perfection that you do but I must say, I’m very pleased with how the portrait turned out. My granddaughter is very pleased too she’s in college now. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Ev Thomas 6 years ago

    A few simple words from William Kent sums it up – “ALL GARDENING IS LANDSCAPE PAINTING.”

  24. Alec penman 6 years ago

    I suppose I have been a gardener since I was a small lad helping my Father on his allotments. Perhaps I didn’t appreciate at that time thinking it more like hard work. After marrying during 1962 we had our own garden to develop and maintain and this is where my fascination with growing cuttings and planting our seeds began. The garden has been something my Wife and I can do together which we enjoy. After retiring 11 years a go I thought I would like to try to draw and paint which was something there never seemed to be time to do when working full time. This is when I discovered what I had been missing during a life time of working which can only be described by the following which I have posted before.

    The Purpose of Art

    It is in order to really see,to see ever deeper,ever more intensely,hence to be fully aware and alive,that I draw and paint ‘The Ten Thousand Things” around me.

     Drawing and painting is the discipline by which I constantly rediscover the world.

    I have learned that what I have not drawn or painted,I have never really seen,and that when I start drawing and painting an ordinary thing,I realize how extraordinary it is,a sheer miracle.

    I would also add another quote,

    “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

    As Anna says, “Gardening as therapy” I fully agree.

  25. Ray 6 years ago

    Love your story Anna and it’s all so true, I am not a gardener due to being disabled but my wife is a gardener, my wife is not an artist but I am so in a way we compliment each other by me taking pictures of the wonderful blooms she grows and then I paint pictures of the blooms and we can then both enjoy the results throughout all the seasons, this way we have never had to call out the doctor, so the saying is true ” an apple a day keeps the doctor away” physically and artistically.

  26. Bee Lan 6 years ago

    Thank you Anna for sharing your inspiration from garden! The video on Monet’s Gardening shows how gardening is connected to painting. I truly love it!
    I was in Australia last year for a month stay at a friend’s house. What amazed me was the ability to produce a flora painting almost every day! The nature is so inspirational that I felt so connected and I couldn’t help but to paint the flowers planted in her garden. Nothing could stop me and I made 22 small paintings in 28 days! I am grateful to my friend, CL who is so generous in opening her house for my stay! Thank God for all the good things that happened there!
    Thank you Anna for sharing your connection with the garden and the information on Monet. I will do my “gardening” in a small little space at my high-rise apartment in Singapore. ❤

  27. Jenny Ruiz 6 years ago

    Hi Anna, reading your blog really made me yearn to be in ANY garden. Due to security restrictions here in Dhaka , Bangladesh, I’m not allowed to go anywhere on foot. Travel in a car is restricted to a very small area where we live. To compensate, I loaded our large balcony with plant pots, even a fruiting lemon tree! The sunlight gets restricted for part of the day and a monsoon knocked the tree over one time, but after winning a fight with the landlord, at least I see some greenery and flowers. We put out seeds and fruit for the birds, too. I travel to the UK in a couple of weeks for much needed R & R, fresh air and lots of walking! I can’t wait for the inspiration, because it’s been flagging.

  28. Beverley Hodges 6 years ago

    Nearly 3 years ago, my lovely mum died. I became extremely depressed even though my caring family supported and helped me. Then I discovered your on-line School, Anna. I enrolled last Christmas and have found a new purpose in life! I did paint years ago, self taught but a busy working life put an end to that. I am now retired and have painted 7 projects so far. Comments from my family and friends include the words, “stunning” and “amazing”. This success prompted me to redesign my small garden and fill it with plants which I’m longing to paint. I find such peace while I’m tending my private oasis and have collected scores of photographs for future projects.
    So thank you Anna, for re- energising the creativity and purpose in my life.

  29. Mary Harper 6 years ago

    Anna i love your thoughtful post. After a few years retirement i have lots of time to garden. Since my interest in botanical art has spiralled i have planted lots of native plants i want to eventually paint. What a great pleasure it is to watch them grow and flower for the first time. We are about to move houses and i only hope someone else will have the happiness that my garden brought me. I now can look forward to planting and admiring my new plants in a smaller garden setting.

  30. Maysoon 6 years ago

    Hi Anna I couldn’t agree more with your comments and views about gardens. Having redesigned my garden last year to suit my taste and getting old and having carefully planned what I wanted to grow of flowers and shrubs , I just love to sit in my small conservatory , look at it and enjoy painting ! It is just lovely and inspiring to see it whether it is on a sunny summer day or a cloudy, rainy or snowy Scottish day!

  31. Diane Quinlan 6 years ago

    Anna – your post really spoke to me. We have had room for a garden, but I was busy working and didn’t have time for one. Then, in 2012 I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Learning this was overwhelming and depressing. A friend wanted to do something for me and he worked for a landscaper. He carved out a beautiful garden. I to,d him that I like wild flowers…..I wanted it to look like it was made naturally. After 4 years, it is really beautiful. I love to weed. It is quiet….I am outside, getting some exercise AND the garden looks better when the weeds are pulled. I also have a sunflower garden and I have bird feeders and a couple of birdbath so nearby. It’s my special haven!! I am thinking of putting some seeds from my sunflowers in my cards so others can plant them!

  32. Colleen Duncan 6 years ago

    I do love to spend time in my garden but I need to learn to paint them better so I hope to sign up for classes soon. Thanks

  33. Linda Bulpin 6 years ago

    Hi I love gardening and so I set up my house when we built it with lots of scope so in the back in a separate garden done in the french style and we only fro food , so lots of herb and salad vegies as well as what is seasonal it feed up with everything as well as all the soft fruits like berries I have them all and now lemons ,oranges,figs,guavas,black and white grapes and pomegranates and passion fruit also we are adding apple trees
    Not on my pool side it is completely tropical and very lush with lots of big ferns and palms lovely to sit here
    I the front of my home we have an inside and outside garden and everything is Fynbos plants from our country south Africa everything we can get our hands on, and on one side we are adding a cactus rockery so as you can imagine I have lots if inspiration for art and am sometimes spoilt for choice we do our own gardening and this year I want to attempt some birds that are in the gardens.

  34. Linda Stinson 6 years ago

    My time in my gardens is precious. My creativity increases and explores ideas of what to do next; how to make the area more organized and functional; what area is being neglected and needing attending to, etc. I love walking through my garden to see what greets me; which orchid genre is exploding with color and fragrance. When I’m finished, I usually walk through using my camera, taking photos for possible future paintings by including many angles of each flower.
    I love the solitude

  35. Louise chiasson 6 years ago

    Le jardinage est ma passion depuis 35 ans….rien que des moments de plénitude et de contact avec la nature et ses secrets.
    Cette année, j’envisage de créer des carnets ( sktetching with pen and ink and watercolor) de mon jardin de plantes et fleurs sous l’angle de chacune des saisons et de ses atours. Chaque parcelle (racoin) de mon jardin est soigneusement répertorié dans mon album de photos, années après années.
    Jolie page web…Anna…

  36. MaryBeth Buschmann 6 years ago

    Anna, you are so right about the garden. I used to do all of my gardening until a few years ago when my arthritis became too severe to allow me the pleasure. However, I still love my gardens and often do en plein air painting of my garden contents. It brings me so much closer to God’s glorious creation! It restores my soul.

  37. Sheliah Lonian 6 years ago

    Okay Anna, I have just come into the house from weeding my garden. We had quite a bit of rain here in Dallas, Texas, this year and to be quite honest, the weeds took over from us. I had decided to do an hour or so a day working on those pesky weeds. I worked last night until dark and again this morning. The only problem is the temps over 100. It can wear you out! Seriously, I garden at those times for the peace and quiet, and so that I can paint during the hot times of day (107 yesterday)! I still manage to grow roses and other local plants including two sunflowers that came up under my bird feeder. I am letting them grow because I thought it would be fun to watch the birds enjoying them later on. Even with the hard work, I totally think that it is worth it.

  38. Wayne Goronzy 6 years ago

    Not too many men commenting here? I love the result of gardening – The adult years! When something from a seed blooms into a beautiful colourful unique “thing”. I say “thing” because it could be one of hundreds of thousands of plants, flowers, bushes, trees. I compare it to our lives: you start with the seed (impregnate), then nurture it to a seedling (being birthed), then from toddler to child to adolescence and the teenage years; so too goes the seedling (watering, feeding, pruning, clipping, fertilizing, weeding, influencing where and how the plant should grow – doing all the things to the plant that allow it to reach maturity and bloom that you would for a child of your own. For a while the flower thrives, our adult years, before it withers, turns brown and grey, and is returned to the soil, just as we do as seniors. Quite the journey. For years I have painted flowers from my mothers garden: they are prominently displayed in our home: I would love to show you my Iris’s.

  39. R Becker 6 years ago

    Absolutely, garden colors influence my color selections and creativity. We are visiting a beach house in East Wittering. The incredible garden comes to life against the sea when the skies are gray. My favorites are the purple and dark pink poppies.

  40. Mary Burns 6 years ago

    I absolutely agree. I cherish the time I have in my garden and I love to look at how the sun at differnt times of the day makes the colors of the flowers look. I bought a Monet print this weekend at a yard sale. I love how he paints light on flowers. Thank you.

  41. Jacqueline Edwards 6 years ago

    A wonderful post and subject dear to my heart. Gardening and flowers have always played a large part in my life. I used to offer landscape design ideas and did landscaping locally for many years. Then went for my florist license as well. My garden now is mostly container gardening as we have many mature trees around us. But I do enjoy planning and planting them up each year :).

  42. Hata 6 years ago

    My Garden was my rescue, connecting me back to Mother Earth.
    I love dancing alone among my plants, only witness by birds and bees.
    I hide my fear and leave my sadness in the earth, when i dig.
    The sense of seasons gave me back confident and sense of joy in life.
    Thank you nature for placing me here on this beautiful planet. …Hata

  43. Shawdiane Uttley 6 years ago

    How true this is, My husband and I both have a chronic illness and we find gardening is extremely mentally up lifting. Our garden looks wonderful full of beauiful flowers, green lusious plants and best of all, is seeing the pretty Bees and Birds that have made their home in our little bit of heaven
    and is so inspiring that I often take out my paintbox to paint little greeting cards of the flowers
    and garden scenes to send to family and friends which they love to collect. So, our garden is also bringings pleasure to others as well as ourseleves.
    This is so healing physically and mentally and a bonus? We get a good nights sleep after spending time making the garden lovely. When we were out just the other day, 3 neighbours complimented how beautiful we had made the garden – another uplift !

  44. B.B. 6 years ago

    As a child, I never liked being in the house as it was not a peaceful place. No matter who I lived with or where, I could always be found outside in the dirt. Naturally I’ve had a garden as necessity everywhere I’ve lived in California. However, three years ago I moved to the PACIFIC NORTHWEST, where my daughter lives with her children. The summers are late and short here. And finally we get to really enjoy our garden in July. This year I am growing broccoli and heirloom lettuce in addition to the usual. Oh, and snap peas because I just love them. I am a new student to your class and very excited to try the instruction you give. I found your tips on YouTube tonight. I can’t wait to make my watercolor better.

    B.B. Oregon

  45. Jane Robinson 6 years ago

    I do so agree Anna……my passion for painting and gardening go hand in hand, the joy of nature and (in my case….:)) trying to recreate it by painting is wonderful as you then have a double dose of nature!
    I love to take photographs and then spend winter months working on those summer days with paint.
    A few years ago I created my own Mediterranean garden which was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done…
    Thanks Anna….

  46. Judy White 6 years ago

    Several years ago I had a nice vegetable garden. When I harvested the vegetables I decided they were so beautiful that I photographed them and then made 10 painting of the vegetable and they hang in my kitchen. I had cards made from the paintings and sold them at a Farmers market for 2 years.
    Live in the High Desert country on a river in North Central Oregon, USA

  47. Jodi Ferguson 6 years ago

    Thanks for the reminder! Its also good to be reminded of God’s provisions in the midst of challenges. With love of nature, gardening is just an extension of helping nature express it to its fullest. Its peaceful and refreshingly healing qualities are always there. As we help her grow, we grow. We aren’t the same, but we benefit from each other. When I had my accident I couldn’t garden any more the way one would typically garden. This was very sad for multiple reasons, but being a gardener and artist at heart I was giving up more than just playing with growing plants, but special extensions of this like 15-20 varieties of garlic-collection. Who wants just plain white garlic when you can have so many different colors and textures? It all came to screeching halt. However, we then discovered that one could take food grade drums, cut them and half, and put legs on them. You can make the drum-planter tall enough to work nicely at full standing position. Or you can make them at the level accessible for someone in a wheelchair. This was our solution! Today I still have limitations and have drum-planter beds. they have veggies growing in them, purple kale, polka-dotted lettuce, claytonia, edible flowers, and special projects of trying to create a pink or red blushed pea; and creating a strain of lettuce that survives 5 degrees without cover. I have also extended it hybridizing my own daylilies. I have a couple hundred babies that will bloom unlike any others; they are all one of a kind. So its part of that creativity expanded, and it extends itself both directions. Someday, I will have my pink-red pea pods, and blooming daylilies that I just can’t help but paint lots of them. Its like being a sculpture and a painter all in one. Its also like being an explorer, exploring the possibilities of what is about to happen…like hope

    • Author
      Anna Mason 6 years ago

      Loved hearing this story and thanks for sharing the beautiful Day Lily Jodi!

  48. Jo Ann Koepke 6 years ago

    Anna, I agree whole-heartedly about the health benefits of gardening. You may have read my introduction to the online school. I am in the process of setting up a nonprofit center here in Norfolk, NE, and other rural communities to help low- income persons, particularly those who are older and/or disabled.
    One of the biggest projects is going to be gardening. I planted tomatoes, eggplant, cabbage, summer squash, and swiss chard. Hunger and food insecurity is an enormous problem here. Over 50 percent of the school kids need help with food over the weekends. One thing people also need is beauty. They also need flowers and I would add they need flowers and more flowers.
    I have had to set up the garden so I can get my wheelchair through it and that has been difficult on a rather
    small patio. But I did it.
    As a result of all this work, I was able to spend this morning taking photos of flowers along with their leaves for
    painting. But I did not just gain over a 50 potentially great photos for painting, I also feel better. One part of my
    disabilities is a severe pain syndrome. And one thing that alleviates some of the pain is getting my hands in dirt.
    I get a chuckle out of my neighbors’ reaction when I end up with mud on my legs and hands and –my wheelchair wheels. But I love mud—and it is so much better than being groggy from the extra pain medication I would otherwise have to take. And I am serious, there really are somethings in the plain old dirt that can alleviate pain by their effect on the skin’s pain receptors.
    Anyway, the center is basically about using art, gardening, music , and creative writing for the health
    benefits and building communities in rural areas. My doctor is on the Board of Directors and he will
    be working with the medical community to promote activities like painting,( you will eventually be getting
    some other students from this part of the world), playing the piano ( I will also be teaching piano) and getting
    your hands in the mud.
    Anyway, we all need to do gardening. I really think that if gardening was a basic part of education all the way
    from pre-school to Ph.D. level we could solve a lot of the hunger problems in my country and probably the world.
    And helping hunger can help prevent a lot of health problems. Gardening also helps something that is becoming
    a growing problem here and elsewhere-isolation of older persons. Gardening is a huge community builder across
    Anyway, Anna, your are so right about gardening being one of the best health care tools that we have. I do know
    it is also going to provide me with an endless supply of plants and fruits and vegetables to paint. With all these
    benefits and many more– we may all need to get our hands covered with mud.

  49. Teresa Tipton 3 years ago

    I am just now reading this because I just joined the school in August 2019, and I’m working my way through all the things I have missed on the schools website.
    Gardening is one thing that I love to do. I wish I could plant my whole yard with flowers. The summers in Virginia are brutal…hazy, hot, humid, and sometimes very little rain. I have planted borders of flowers that I love. I enjoying just sitting and looking at the flowers, and the bees, butterflies and birds that are attracted to our yard.
    We have a small koi pond with a waterfall and the sounds are quite lovely, peaceful, and relaxing. I think being able to enjoy life and beautiful things, just by stepping into the yard, gives me such joy. Being joyful is different from being happy. Happy lasts for a moment, really, but joy fills the heart and warms the soul. Gardening does that for me. Having different “gardens” throughout our yard is definitely something that keeps me joyful…and that is good for my health.
    Best wishes to you, Anna.


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