The simple answer: because I cannot help myself.
Shall I go into a bit more detail? Right, as you wish. The truth is, I was raised on a farm. Yes, I am a farmgirl. And proud of it. Growing up in a tiny village gave me an amazing childhood. My friends and me were outside every day after school (and after homework, of course) and in the weekend. We would visit each other on our bikes or just cruise up and down the village. Also, we were allowed to play in the woods behind our parents houses. Those woods were not big, merely a stretch of trees surrounding an old gravel pit in the middle of an otherwise highly agricultural landscape. But those woods were great. We climbed trees, built little huts and imagined the greatest adventures there.
And we got to help on our parents farm. I cannot even remember the first time I did some work in the garden together with my parents and grandparents. From a very young age, we were involved. We would help sow seeds, plant tulip bulbs, harvest carrots and strawberries, prepare peas to be frozen... Gardening was always a part of our life. And each year, my brother and me would get a tiny piece in the garden that was "our garden". Each of us had their own piece and we were to decide what we wanted to grow. Everything was allowed, as long as we took care of it. The whole process was very natural. We learned how to sow, how to propagate roses, how to harvest fruit and veg and how to store it. Gardening was something one had to do to have food on the plate and pretty flowers in the vase.
I loved our vegetable garden. At the entrance, my grandmother had planted a yellow and peach colored rose that smelled just delicious. Then, when you walked further, you would pass a lilac tree, then peonies followed by carnations. In spring, the main path was lined with buttery yellow daffodils. In summer, the lower part was covered in blooming roses and in fall, there was the smell of bonfires and wet soil. The whole garden was such a sensual experience.
As we got older, we also got more responsibilities. Some of them were less great. Making cordial standing in front of our cooker on a hot summer day is just that. Not fun. Digging over the whole plot in fall... no, not fun. But with more responsibility also came more saying in the planning and layout of it. Not the veg plot, to be fair. That was planned out already by my grandparents and they were the boss on that plot. But when my mother decided to makeover some of the borders, I was there with her. We went through gardening magazines and books, looked at programs on TV and show gardens. She wanted a mixed border, like in England she said. And we were determined to get it right. We dug over the soil, cleared it in endless hours and prepared the border. Then came the planting. All based on traditional cottage garden flowers.
It worked. And it was beautiful. But even more important, it was a bonding experience. My mum and me share a passion for gardening that is - to this day - untamed.
When I moved in with my Mister, the first thing on my mind was the redecoration of his balconies. I did not have a garden ever since I moved out of my parents' house in 1999. At first, it seemed liberating. No more digging, no more sweating while making jam. But that feeling did not last long.
Slowly, but steadily, another feeling crept in. I started to miss "green" around me. I missed getting my hands dirty with soil, I missed pruning the roses and planting seedlings. I really did.
So this year I finally had a chance to give in and start a garden. Yes, it was all in pots and on a very tiny scale. But that was not the point. It was my first garden. I cannot describe the joy and pride I felt when I bought my hydrangea. Or when we harvested our first tomato. Or when I dried a gazillion bay leaves from my own shrub this summer. Did I make mistakes? Loads. After not using my green thumb for almost 15 years, it seemed to have lost its magic power a bit. But that is part of the whole experience. I enjoy figuering out what works and what does not. And with every mistake made, a bit of my old feeling for all things garden comes back.
So you see, gardening is a habit for me. It reminds me of a happy childhood and provides a common ground for my mum and me to get carried away with. It calms me down, it excites me and makes me feel proud. Who would think that simple flowers can do all this? So I urge you to go out and try for yourself. Start small and easy and accept failure. It is part of the deal. But try. And I guarantee you, it is time well spend.