Flower therapy



What a disgusting winter. And when I say this I am including all the atrocities and catastrophes we have seen occurring across the world—some of them as I write this. It has been disturbing and depressing inside and out for months.

Though a couple minor snow events will likely roll in before spring truly arrives, we are finally seeing some mid-50s in the forecast.  Snowdrops and crocuses are appearing. I was happy just to see the ground, which has been intermittently covered since November—a long time even for here.

The uncertain times could be one reason—according to a recent GWA survey—that gardening is becoming as widespread among those under 40 as those “of a certain age.” Not that I place great stock in these surveys—all of which seem to be conducted by organizations that have the most to gain by a gardening uptick. (I never see the big general polls—Gallup, Pew, Zogby—surveying gardening. I guess they don’t think it’s important enough.)

But I can believe that there is some sort of across-the-board increase in gardening, even if not as dramatic as the industry cheerleaders would like us to believe. And I can believe that many will be happy to turn off the news and work outside this spring. This year, my tulips were starting to bloom inside, just as the snowdrops were revealed by last weeks thaw. Other ways of hastening the season include bringing big indoor plants outside as soon as possible as well as big pots full of bulbs, which will likely come up before the ones in the ground.

As for all my indoor forcing containers, they will be filled once more with summer bulbs like lilies and dahlias, creating (hopefully) a phalanx of color and scent. Such a relatively cheap strategy of creating beauty seems constructive—in some small way. Happy Bloom Day.

Previous articleThis time, the law forbids mowing
Next articleRobert Frost, Poultryman
Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Scientific test last year, reported via NYTimes, showed cancer patients with higher white blood cell counts after being in nature than those being in cities.

    Findings indicate it’s not merely the visual of plants but something released by plants that we absorb thru our skin.

    Is there more going on being around flowers than foliage? Scientific testing, on this, anyone?

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. Thanks for making that point and it is so true, Tara; plant life, and all nature, is a balm for our souls. It’d be interesting, but we don’t really need a scientific test to prove it.

    I think it has been a hard winter emotionally for many of us. Mankind’s many-decades arrogance with our energy sources, thinking we can “control” every bad outcome is proving just that–insane arrogance. It seems we are witnessing, literally, our fast destruction of the planet.

    Will wisdom return, or will those who profit the most keep lurching greedily toward wealth until the bitter end?

  3. Thanks for sharing the picture of your basement harvest, Elizabeth! It really does the heart good after seeing the heartbreaking images from Japan. It makes me think of a quote from the naturalist John Burroughs (I won’t guarantee that I have it completely accurately, but it’s close): “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” Happy Bloom Day to you too.

  4. I also agree that this winter has made me weary. There is so much to look forward to this spring, but it just doesn’t seem to be getting here. I have made a decision to plant snowdrops and crocus directly beside my foundation for next spring. If I had stuck some there last fall they would already be up. After many years of gardening I should have known this, and known that I NEED something early.

  5. Yes to outside, to work, to spring, to creating beauty in some small way and to more people discovering something that soothes and heals in troubled times. Growing tulips or snap peas won’t save the world, but it is human to celebrate what is beautiful in the world even as the world breaks your heart. Your post rang true to me and I hope you enjoy your garden this spring.

  6. My husband and I enjoy several forced bulbs for an early spring like feel inside while winter still looms outside.

    Thanks for sharing yours. 🙂

  7. Gardening is comforting. It speaks to life going on, and cycles continuing. It’s also something I can actually CONTROL to a large degree.

  8. It’s definitely true! I’m 29 and I see a huge trend in my generation toward gardening, largely fueled (in my non-professional opinion) by the trend of eating local, DIY, etc. The crafts are making a huge comeback (quilting, sewing, knitting, etc) and I think that gardening is totally in line with that theme.
    My generation is really into learning the things our “grandparents” (as in, that generation more so than our specific ancestors) knew and happily, gardening is right in the thick of it. YAY!

  9. This has been such an enjoyable post to read, including the comment section. So happy that there has been a break from the usually fervent and ardent opinions that give this blog its unusual but noble character.

  10. It is as dramatic as the industry cheerleaders would have us believe! Every once on a while they get it right- even if if is in the service of self-promotion. The community garden in our neighborhood has twice as many people applying for spaces as there are available plots- and the woman who runs the garden says demand has been growing every year. I am in my 30’s and most of my friends garden in some way, most for vegetables, since you can’t argue with the value of having fresh organic local produce available for almost free! I’m trying maple syruping this year- more for fun than for the hope of being able to put up a year’s supply of syrup. But what’s to lose? Time watching TV? Garden Rant has inspired me to start a blog about my own urban backyard garden: eighthacrefarm@blogspot.com I posted the maple syruping photos last night.

  11. Regarding ‘gardening under 40’- I’m 32 and have been a passionate city gardener for around 8+ yrs. None of my friends who are my age or younger are into gardening & it’s disheartening. As blooms are bursting all over (zone 9), I decided to look up local garden clubs since I’d love to connect with like-minded locals who’d be interested in discussing/swapping plants. It appears there are 2 major garden clubs in this city, 1 established in the 30’s! So far I’ve found that both seem to be much older women (no men?). After inquiring about membership, I learned one must be ‘put up’ by an active member, seconded by another then voted by all. What the? I had no idea gardening was such a private and serious endeavor.

  12. Perhaps it’s time to move south, and avoid the winters? Flowers year round in Southern California…

    Jennifer, it sounds like that club has just the membership it wants, and isn’t interested in young gardeners or men. Our generation does seem completely removed from gardening, but I’m happy to say that I went from zero gardening friends to two after they bought homes 🙂

  13. I want to start a garden group in NOLA w/ the same manifesto as GardenRant! I wonder if there are any New Orleanians who read this blog (?)

  14. Thank You Major. The Marine Corps has turned my boy into a man. Since bootcamp he has not asked us for anything. I try to help him get his bills in order when he went to Iraq beings he had purchased a car and a motorcycle. But he had everything taken care of. Now he’s deployed again and this is a much harder deployment for all of us. I’m worried every minute of everyday. He wrote me on a piece of cardboard turned postcard and asked for babywipes. No running water. No showers. His last sentence was “don’t worry I’m fine mom.” I’ve been sending care packages every week hoping he’s getting them.

Comments are closed.