Getting led up the garden path isn’t always a bad thing. You’d be amazed at the treasures and pleasures that await.

George admiring the flower he has grown.

As a metaphor for life, gardening is the best there is. Think strong roots and firm foundations. It makes sense in any context, whether you relate it to family togetherness or designing a skyscraper. Any gardener will tell you that.

They’ll also say that life (and gardening) is better with barrowloads of patience. Plants grow slowly and no amount of rushing things (with fertiliser) will speed them up. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Gardening is also good for you. It helps people battling high blood pressure, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, helps moderate mood and alleviate stress and doubles as a workout. Did you know three hours of moderate gardening will burn as many calories as a one-hour gym workout?

But back to gardening itself. Gardeners understand the only certainty is change – it’s why everything looks proportional in a garden for only so long. Plants get woody or diseased. And they die. That’s why in 10 years no garden will resemble the way it is now.

Gardening is an exercise in accepting whatever happens. Going with the flow. Especially when it comes to native plants – our fickle locals can keel over suddenly and inexplicably. Healthy one day, dead the next. And this is why gardeners are such get-on-with-it pragmatists – they rip out the ailing and lifeless, and plant anew. Usually with another little experiment, in the hope it might be hardier.

But enough of metaphors – gardeners have a low-tolerance for fluff. They are ‘practical folk’ whose idea of fun is getting dirty – rugging up and hitting it in any weather, slogging through winter for the rewards of spring and sweating under sunscreen and hat while everyone else is inside with air-conditioning.

Using secateurs to cut the stem off a lemon.

This isn’t as unappealing as it may sound. The seasons are so much richer when you see them up close – turning leaves, peaches plumping out, birds gleaning twigs for nests and butterflies appearing like magic on the first warm days of summer.

A flourishing garden is certainly a thing of beauty, although any keen gardener will tell you it isn’t just about the results. It’s about the doing. Gardeners know that every day you miss takes at least two to catch up. Hacking back the overgrown is cathartic but it’s really just damage control – the thing you do before real nurturing can begin.

Beyond the heavy industry of digging, pulling, chopping and raking, gardening is about watching for signs, day in day out. And then one day seeing them – like a tiny green bud on a stalk that, the day before, looked dead.

Gardening comes with some strange belief that all those growing, independent and capable plants somehow need you. They need your diligent watering and well-researched fertilising and pruning.

Who knows where such enthusiasm and dedication originates? Maybe gardening is in the genes, or maybe it comes from childhood remembrance of helping mum or dad on rose-coloured weekends when the distant sound of lawn mowers meant no school today.

You’re either into it or you aren’t.

For gardeners, nothing beats a day in the dirt – potting up cuttings, digging in fertiliser, hunting out weeds. Time either stops or it flies.

As a gardener you become part of a living world that has as many ups and downs as ‘regular’ life, but is infused with an extra richness that defies description. You know the feeling. If you don’t, get out in the garden and find out.

Why gardening is good for your health

  • Three hours of moderate gardening burns as many calories as one hour at the gym.
  • Gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by almost 30%.
  • Gardening reduces the risk of obesity.
  • 75% of gardeners rate their health as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.
  • People who grow more fruit and vegetables eat more fruit and veg.
  • Gardening is more effective at reducing the stress hormone cortisol than reading.
  • Gardening requires skills that can protect the brain from ageing.
  • Regular gardeners are less likely to suffer from dementia.
  • Gardening improves your memory.