The Joys of Family Gardening

family gardeningGuest Blogger: Khwaja Hussain, MD, primary care provider

Spring evokes many emotions for any gardener. All the plans made over a year need to be implemented in a burst of activity over just a few weeks. A lot needs to be done, and time is of essence. Looking forward to seeing some of the perennials come back with anxious excitement is like meeting a dear friend. But, some do not come back, especially after a long, cold winter like we just had! This spring was special because we had a family of black-capped chickadees nesting in our front yard. It was a validation for all the hard work that went into our garden.

Let me explain:

My family has worked collectively in the garden to engage with nature. We enjoy the obvious riot of colors when the flowers announce the arrival of spring. The joy is compounded to know that the intricate interactions among soil, plants, insects and birds are playing out just like we had planned. This is why the chickadees nesting was such a wonderful sight. We had decided early that the focus of our efforts would be to invite nature back into our garden. We planted native plants, especially native wildflowers, and avoided using chemicals. The delicate balance of nature kept the harmful plants and bugs out of our garden.

A blog post by the National Wildlife Federation explained why native plants are important to raise a clutch of chickadees. It takes 5,000 insects to raise a brood! My son and I (with ample help from my wife) put together the bird box the chickadees used to nest the previous year. It was disappointing not to have a bird occupy the box as soon as we put it up. It is a lesson my 5-year-old son will do well to learn – you have to be patient and nature will reward you.

Gardening is a great family activity. It can be what you want it to be. It is important to understand what you want to get out of it and how much effort you want to invest in it.

Join the conversation. Tell us how you involve your family in gardening.

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