Last year, someone asked me how I handle the stresses of everyday life. One of my strategies after a particularly hard day is immediately going out in the garden when I get home. However, I have trouble simply sitting and relaxing there. I have to be doing something, like watering, deadheading flowers, scouting for insect pests or hoeing weeds, but I do occasionally pause to listen to chirping birds or watch the gentle honeybees visit the flowers.
If you are a gardener like me, you probably intrinsically know the value of plants and gardening. There are numerous university studies that have documented the restorative power of gardens and green spaces, including the reduction of stress and the improvement of well being and hopefulness. Working in the garden or just spending time in a park can lower your blood pressure. Other research has shown that longer exposure to green spaces can even improve immune responses. Plants, green spaces and gardens have also been proved to lessen mental fatigue and improve one’s ability to concentrate.
I am enthusiastic about helping others learn to garden because it is my passion, and also because of the benefits gardening provides. That is why I invite you to join me and other gardeners April 23 for Spring Garden Day at the Highlands Grange Hall, 1500 N. Union St., Kennewick.
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Two garden experts will share their gardening expertise. Arthur Job from Job’s Nursery in Pasco is a tree expert and certified arborist who is enthusiastic about helping others learn proper tree care and pruning techniques. He will give a presentation on Planting Trees the Right Way. Trees are a big investment in any landscape, but unfortunately, poor planting practices often result in trees that do not live long. Planting a tree correctly and providing proper care will help protect your investment and ensure that the tree survives and thrives.
Following this presentation, Phyllis Pugnetti, the 2015 Washington State Master Gardener of the Year and Yakima County Washington State University Master Gardener, will explore ways to increase garden resilience through reduced chemical use, increased drought and heat tolerance, and better ecosystem management. As a gardener, Pugnetti is interested in growing unusual and endangered vegetables, organic gardening and saving seed from open-pollinated plants. She believes, like I do, that gardens can “help us through the tough times in life with our health and sanity intact.”
We will finish the day with a question and answer session where WSU Master Gardeners and I will answer participants’ questions. You will also be invited to take a walk through the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden behind the Mid-Columbia Library. This almost three-acre garden with more than 25 themed gardens is a place for learning, reflection and repose. If you are not able to attend the class, I encourage to still visit the Demonstration Garden, especially if you find yourself in need of some peace and relaxation.
The cost for Spring Garden Day is $15. The registration deadline is April 15. To register, stop by the Benton County WSU Extension Office at 5600 W. Canal Drive in Kennewick, or call 509-735-3551 for a brochure and registration form. A copy of the brochure and form can also be found at http://bit.ly/Spring_Garden_Day.
Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.