Garden therapy … or feeding the critters?

“How did the deer get in your backyard?” We were on a week-long camping trip when my husband Dan received this text message from our neighbor.


Back at home, while unloading the trailer, two mama deer and three speckled fawns ambled through our gate to help themselves to our garden.

Seriously?! You don’t see us standing right here?

A University of North Carolina Health Talk article—“8 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening”—maintains that gardening is good for the heart, reduces stress, and can make you happy. Not to mention the benefit of healthier eating.

But what intrigued me most in the article was this point: “Gardening can build self-esteem.”

According to the piece, “after tilling, planting, nurturing and harvesting plants, you might see a slightly different person in the mirror: a person who can grow things and is a little more in tune with the earth”:

It always feels good to accomplish new tasks, and if you can grow a garden, what can’t you do?

It’s been a while since I last had a garden. I’d forgotten how deliciously fun it is to run my hands through fertile soil.

Dan and I planted zucchini, red potatoes, bush beans, three varieties of tomatoes, and cabbage starts from a friend.



Sunflowers line the back pole fence. We added raspberries to the already-growing strawberries and rhubarb.

Red and yellow peppers grow next to jalapeños.

Peppermint, rosemary, and oregano share the sunny deck with pots of flowers.

And honey bees gather their purple treasure from our pots of lavender waiting to be permanently planted.



What if?

This from a Psychology Today piece:

A growing body of research has … found evidence that being in green, or even being able to look out on a green landscape, is linked with better recovery from surgery, less anxiety and depression, better stress management. And it can kickstart your creativity.

What if getting dirt in our fingernails, and planting and nurturing seeds—whether an acre of plants or a windowsill garden—helps us through the hard and holy moments of life? It does.

And what if harvesting the produce and giving it away and cooking good stuff with it is part of better health? It is.

This morning we had green peppers cut up into our scrambled eggs.

I served fresh-baked zucchini bread to mid-morning guests at our patio table.

For dinner, we snipped oregano and stirred it into a batch of chicken alfredo.

And oh, how gratifying to eat and serve food we’ve helped grow.

This wisdom from an author unknown:

Play in the dirt. Because life is too short to have clean fingernails.

Side note

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said:

The earth laughs in flowers.


Our backyard has been laughing all summer long.


The pursuit of happiness … or should we?


Here’s why freedom is over-rated


  1. Hidie Baker

    I believe gardening is good for the soul. I love looking at my yard after I have mowed it. It’s hard work but in the end after all the work is done, you feel satisfied.

  2. Penny

    I keep impressing on my girls to get knowledge and practice growing and canning our own food!!
    We never know what the future holds……

    Looking at the pictures of flowers, your deck ( patio) and the frames hanging on the fence with decorations
    made me smile and think of HGTV……. but you have been so creative all your life!!
    Enjoy your bounty, save what you can and know I’m thrilled you two found each other!!

    Love you……PJ ????????

  3. Peter

    So good to read this.. I get the ‘getting your/my hands dirty’ bit.. always so satisfying & usually rewarding, in so many ways. Therapeutically perfect for the mind, heart, body & health, not to mention ‘a smile’… so important. This year, so many folk have past comment about our front lawn.. so very small, believe me, but the comments have made me think & appreciate our little patches of GREEN. It’s a small pleasure.. to keep finding a few strawberries for Barbara each morning and fresh tomatoes, which she just loves. So, it’s a plus/positive, which ever way you think about it. So glad you are safe & well.. thinking of the fires!!. Have heard from many in your lovely Oregon, they are safe too, but harrowing stories. God Bless & keep you safe, Bx P & family.

  4. Rita Weick

    We have been growing an extensive garden in raised beds in the back yard for a number of years. During the height of the staying-safely-in-place months, we had plenty to do outside. What a blessing! The lavender has finished blooming and now the Fall asters have taken their place in attracting bees. –Rita PS- Your bouquet of sunflowers is gorgeous!

    • Dan had the idea to take a bouquet of sunflowers to my sister-in-law on an out-of-state trip. Which made me think, after we returned home, that I wanted a bouquet as well. So now I’m enjoying the sunflowers indoors and out!

  5. Beautiful photographs. I love gardening. Have a blessed week!

  6. Patty Coleman

    Hi Marlys, I love this! Being outdoors is so relaxing and gardening makes it even better. I truly feel closer to God being outdoors. Another thing that helps me relax is picking blackberries. I usually pick more than I can use, so I share with neighbors. Have a wonderful week ❤️ ~Patty~

  7. Mikki Bates

    What a beautiful garden. I’m so VERY happy for you both. We WORKED on a much larger garden this year. Flowers weren’t much of a part (the seeds didn’t spout), but it’s time to move some Iris and daffodil bulbs. Thank you for the renewed inspiration – with each post.

  8. Nasus

    Dear Marlys! Thank you for your lovely pictures and words! I cannot say that I enjoy “garden-ing.” However, I have been so blessed by the “people-ing” which has come because of my being working in the front yard when they walked or drove by. God makes people bouquets just when we need them! You and Dan are beautiful blossoms, loved and much appreciated!

  9. Barbara

    Loved this article, Marlys, as usual! It caused me to remember clear back to my childhood; my parents had victory gardens during World War II, so gardening is in my DNA (and my sisters as she is a Master Gardener). My George and I most always had a garden. After we moved to my present home and he died, my garden shrunk into several whiskey barrels and containers. This year is the first I haven’t grown vegetables. Only flowers plus sunflowers. I like to grow sunflowers for the birds. I cut off the flower head and pull it down over the metal spike on my back fence so that the birds can feed until there is no more seed. It serves two purposes – one for the birds and the other for my pleasure watching them. Yes, gardening is therapy and even a broken foot and badly sprained ankle and a big black boot didn’t keep me out of the flower bed. Looking forward to more of your adventures! Thank you so much!
    Hugs, Barbara

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2024 Marlys Johnson