Gardens offer sanctuary amid fears and uncertainty

The reddish brown vines of clematis have two buds swelling and preparing to bloom.

The garden has always been my safe place. For more than three decades of good times and bad, it’s a space to reflect and gain perspective.

Regardless of what happens outside the garden, crocus flowers push through the cool soil as winter fades, followed by daffodils, the harbingers of spring. Seeing them bloom means there’s no turning back; they are a friendly reminder of how wonderfully persistent plants can be. They’ve bloomed for centuries and will continue, regardless of tumultuous times.

Rainy day rejuvenation

Soft, cool rain falls as I lay on wet leaves photographing said crocus flowers. They are closed tight and covered in dewy raindrops that make them look all that more beautiful. Scraggly reddish brown clematis vines are covered in swelling buds and soon will be putting on a show. The unmistakable mating song of a cardinal echoes in the background as the frantic call of pileated woodpeckers flying from tree to tree emanates from the forest.

Inconsequential problems

Sitting in a peaceful garden is restorative; it allows the worries of the world to fade away, replaced by the trivial and never-ending problems that always emerge in the garden. Whether it’s furry four-legged pests, too much or not enough rain, or rampant weeds on the warpath; gardeners alike ponder ways to persist in an effort to harvest their crop, enjoy the beauty of their flowers or both.

A feeling of normality

Cleaning up the garden and getting it ready for planting is an arduous task, especially when dealing with one that’s such a disaster like mine. There are cracked containers to be glued together, fences need mended, compost applied, beds edged, seeds sown and much, much more. Even though it’s a mess, it’s my mess and for that I’m thankful. Every day spent on those garden chores is another one where things feel normal again. It’s the cyclical garden progression I’ve followed for a good part of my life, and it leaves me feeling rejuvenated.

The garden has always been a place for social distancing for me, a chance to slow down and be alone in a private sanctuary. I can’t think of a better place to be exiled to for the next couple of weeks.


Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at (412) 965-3278 or See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at