In the face of job market uncertainties, the lush embrace of a neglected family garden became a sanctuary, offering not just physical refuge but also a profound sense of calm
With the holiday season here, now is the ideal moment to explore a new hobby. Over the past few months, I’ve inundated you with green tidbits, covering plant maintenance, care tips, and a list of my favourite garden plants.
However, I haven’t delved into the reasons behind my venture into gardening and how this simple hobby has contributed to my personal growth.
It all began when a company I was working for at the time, shuttered its doors suddenly. And in the ever-evolving job landscape of the past decade, stable and well-paying positions have become scarce.
With my niche skill set, I found myself navigating the gig economy, a temporary solution that demanded constant job hunting for a fluctuating monthly income. Amidst this chaos, what brought me peace and occupied my spare time was our neglected family garden.
Born in the 50s, my mother, like many Bruneian women of her generation, was an avid orchid and bougainvillea gardener, adorning our front yard with their warm hues. However, due to the onset of grandchildren, her once-vibrant garden had sadly fallen into neglect.
Lost in life without direction and my mind frazzled by the uncertainty of job opportunities, I took it upon myself to rejuvenate the abandoned plants.
The rootbound flora was promptly repotted and provided with fresh soil. I also implemented a strict two-week organic fertiliser cycle for the flowering plants resulting in a spectacular burst of blooms within just a few months.
As the garden gradually revived, a profound sense of contentment washed over me. It was a feeling akin to pride – reviving a living entity and nurturing it to thrive, a tangible product of my own hands. This feeling proved to be addictive.
Beyond personal satisfaction, scientific evidence supports the numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with gardening.
Research from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom found that gardening significantly reduces stress levels. Individuals who spend time cultivating their gardens experience a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone.
Gardening has also been linked to improved mood and a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study in the Journal of Health Psychology suggests that gardening triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter known for its positive impact on mood.
As someone who has personally encountered job market uncertainties, these findings resonate deeply. The garden became not just a physical refuge but a mental sanctuary, fostering a sense of calm amid life’s uncertainties.
Echoing this sentiment is another plant enthusiast, Tracy, who has a penchant for portulacas. These vibrant flowers, commonly known as the 9 o’clock flower, earned their name for the distinctive synchronised blooming of their floral buds at precisely the same time as their namesake.
“I think I inherited (the interest in plants) from my late parents. They liked gardening, and I started liking it too as a teen, basically I like anything to do with flowers,” she shared.
“I love seeing my flowers bloom in the morning, it brings me happiness. More people should take up the hobby because it’s good to make yourself busy, but with gardening, it also makes you active,” added the 54-year-old.
For another plant enthusiast known as Gzul in his early 30s, his journey towards plant parenthood was more serendipitous, tied to the construction of his new house.
“I was never interested in gardening. Why I started collecting them was more as project to beautify our new house. Also it was during the pandemic so I needed something to do while being at home,” he said.
Gradually, his collection expanded, driven by the fascination of witnessing diverse species of houseplants flourish, essentially turning his front yard into a tropical haven.
Evidently, the benefits of gardening extend beyond mental health as they encompass physical well-being as well. Gardening is a low-impact form of exercise that encourages movement, flexibility, and strength.
Activities such as planting, weeding, and pruning contribute to increased physical activity, aiding cardiovascular health and muscle tone. The rhythmic tasks of gardening not only rejuvenated the plants but also invigorated my body.
What started as a modest home project over five years ago has evolved into a cherished hobby, seamlessly weaving into the fabric of my daily routine.
Today, each morning, well before sunrise, I eagerly tend to the array of garden companions I’ve amassed over the years. It may seem simple, yet it’s a tranquil ritual that I embrace, setting a serene tone for the day ahead. – Wardi Wasil