Why You Garden

– Posted in: Garden Musings

kale and  salvia


Sometimes we need others to remind us that much of what we desire is, in fact, possible; all we need to do is dig down into our courage, embrace the unknown, and invite our creative minds out to play. It is then that we can access our infinite possibility and grow into the fullest expression of who we may yet be. Fran Sorin

Your garden mirrors your soul. When your creativity is unfettered, you’re in full bloom. In a state of silent exhilaration. Savoring each moment. Abraham Maslow coined the phrase ‘peak experience’. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it ‘flow’. This is where your soul yearns to be.

Our culture may try to brainwash you into believing that ‘garden making’ is solely about creating a ‘beautiful garden’. I’ve challenged that premise for years and have written about it in my book, the 10th Anniversary Edition of DIGGING DEEP: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.  


You garden because you need to make a profound connection with the Earth. It’s your birthright.

A primordial longing to experience and participate in the magic of nature. The deep knowing that ultimately nature is your teacher.

Your guide. You’re a participant. A cog in the wheel. Not in charge. You learn to slow down. And listen to what the land has to tell you.

Sometimes finding balance and harmony. Other times total frustration and cacophony. It’s the Tao. Dark and Light. Ebb and Flow.

You work in the garden relentlessly because you have to. Fingernails clogged up with dirt. Sweat streaming down your face.

It’s here that you feel most comfortable in your skin. At peace. And yet, paradoxically ‘on fire’. Nurturing and being nurtured.

Part of the cosmic consciousness. Participating in ‘sacred play’. Every keen gardener intuitively knows this.

You have a deep seeded vision of what you want your garden to ‘be’. A yearning that is embedded in your unconscious. This is – in part – what propels you forward. Keeps you chipping away. To get to the essence of what’s underneath.

To embrace your soul – your creative fire.

At the end of the day, after you clean up and store tools, you take a few minutes just to be in your garden. It’s in those moments that you feel a penetrating serenity. A state of bliss.

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe to match your nature with Nature.” Joseph Campbell

Reasons You Garden

Cabbages Growing In Fields


It doesn’t matter where you garden – in the city or suburbs. On a terrace, windowsill, containers. A shared or private garden. It’s the act of gardening that gives you a sense of well being.

It’s getting your hands in the earth that immerses you in feelings of abundance, generosity, kindness, and love.

Gardening is about taking a leap of faith. Letting go of control. Surrendering. And giving your soul permission to dance with the ‘Gods of nature’.

 A few years ago I made a promise to myself. To speak out when someone refers to gardening as an ‘activity’ or ‘past time’. I made a commitment to declare what I think the act of gardening really is. Will you join me in continuing to get the word out?  


You are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter, Dr. Joe Dispenza

One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of A Greater Consciousness And Why It Matters, Larry Dossey, M.D.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown

Biomimicy: Innovation Inspired By NatureJanine Benyus

Daring Greatly: How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown

Dreaming The Future: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature, Kenny Ausubel

Ecotherapy: Healing With Nature In Mind, Linda Buzzell, Editor

Finding Your Way In A Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature To Create The Life You Want, Martha Beck

Hardwiring Happiness: The New Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, Rick Hanson

Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Dis-OrderRichard Louv

Nature and The Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community In A Fragmented World, Bill Plotkin

Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness In Everyday Places, John Stilgoe

Planting: A New Perspective, Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury

Play: How It Shapes The Brain, Opens The Imagination and Invigorates The Soul, Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughn

Spiritual Ecology: The Cry Of The Earth, Thich Nhat Hanh, Joanna Macy, Wendell Berry et.al


Inspirational Classics

Comfortable With Uncertainty, Pema Chodron

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, John Taylor Gatto

Escape From Freedom: Erich Fromm

Free Play: Improvisation In Life and Art, Stephen Nachmanovitch

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell

Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl

Religion, Values, and Peak Experiences, Abraham Maslow

Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential, Carolyn Myss

Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Michael Pollan

Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living,  Dalai Lama

The Complete Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Courage To Create, Rollo May

The Earth Has A Soul: C.G.Jung on Nature, Technology, and Modern Life, Carl Jung

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Sir Ken Robinson

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, Thich Nhat hanh

The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide To The Fulfillment Of Your Dreams, Deepak Chopra

The Tibetan Book of Living and DyingSogyal Rinpoche

The World Is A Waiting Lover, Trebbe Johnson, Thomas Moore

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

**Please note: This article was originally published in 2013. I am involved in some intensive research and study projects for the summer so will be recycling some favorite article. Hope you enjoy! Blessings and much love- Fran

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin
28 Comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Miriam Goldberger January 3, 2014, 9:19 am

Ah Fran Sorin –
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. What a fount of inspiration you are! I appreciate your reminders of the deep dance we do daily with the earth. Here in Canada it’s brutally cold white and bright right now. Your words warm my soul!!! – Miriam

Mary January 3, 2014, 12:05 pm

For survival, for a chance to make a difference if only in a small way. To see beauty and to feel I have created and nurtured in some small way.

Christina Schneck January 3, 2014, 1:29 pm

Hi Fran:

Your article on Why you Garden spoke to me. I do a few other creative endeavors but my garden has the loudest voice and I listen. My garden brings me joy and peace and I love all the critters that visit. Thank you for your lovely words.

Catherine January 3, 2014, 5:57 pm

I think that gardening also teaches us mindfulness – the ability to be only in the present, seeing, feeling, smelling and listening only to what is around us at that moment. It’s a healing and relaxing meditative state that many psychologists and therapists are now trying to teach their patients, and that most gardeners can achieve simply by walking out their back door.

Fran Sorin January 3, 2014, 11:14 pm

Dear Miriam –

Thanks for your lovely words dear friend ~

Yes, I know you are having brutally cold weather. We are experiencing low 50s in the morning and night and mid 60s daytime. I went to a nursery the other day with a friend – just to sniff around for ideas. Of course, neither one of us could help buying some plants. It is pure JOY – the buying, planting, and tending!

Fran Sorin January 3, 2014, 11:19 pm

Dear Christina –
That you find joy and peace in your garden is because you have opened your heart to participating in this dance of nature. Thanks for the reminder about the critters scurrying about that we come into contact with. They certainly do add another element of beauty, diversity, and sometimes frustration to our time in the garden. Warmly, Fran

Fran Sorin January 3, 2014, 11:30 pm

Dear Catherine-
The garden can be a powerful tool for teaching us mindfulness. But it still takes a willing participant – the gardener – to let go – stop worrying about what needs to be done – and immerse herself into the present – as you beautifully describe. You are a perfect example of this. With gratitude for your lovely words -Fran

Fran Sorin January 3, 2014, 11:36 pm

Mary –
The first phrase that you wrote ‘for survival’ is a powerful one ….and I have rarely seen it written about by gardeners. I also wouldn’t underestimate that you are making a difference ‘if only in a small way’. We have no idea the impact our being in the garden – creating, nurturing, appreciating beauty – has on the cosmic consciousness, let alone the environment itself. With gratitude, Fran

Fran Sorin January 3, 2014, 11:39 pm

Hi Christina,
You are a wise woman to listen to the loudest voice among your creative endeavors – the garden (love that phrase). Thanks for the reminder about the beauty of all the little critters that visit. Hey, I still get excited when I see ladybugs on my urban rooftop garden. You made my day when I read that your garden brings you joy and peace. With gratitude – Fran

Peggy Herrman January 5, 2014, 4:13 pm

A simple ditto to Miriam’s comments. Knew it was you even before see authorship. You are good ^_^

Fran Sorin January 5, 2014, 10:21 pm

Thanks so much Peggy – 🙂

Betsy January 5, 2014, 10:58 pm

What a wonderful post! I garden for so many of those reasons – to be connected to the Earth, to be mindful, to commune with all the insects and small animals. I see the garden as my biggest creative endeavor. I sometimes hate to pick the vegetables because they’re so beautiful!! I feel such peace as well after gardening. Thanks for all these reminders and for all the books to inspire. There are many I haven’t read and will take notes of those!!
Happy New Year!!

Ann January 6, 2014, 12:24 am

This brought tears to my eyes. By gardening, I have hope and an eagerness for the future. It makes me forget I’m old and some of my life choices may not have been the best. But I can bring beauty into the world. I’ve seen tears in the eyes of one the strongest women I know, after I finished her garden remodel. A very short, but fine moment, in my recent life: I can make a difference. One garden at a time. Thank you, Fran, for putting such lovely words to what we do.

Elle January 6, 2014, 9:35 am

Gardening is about taking a leap of faith. Letting go of control. Surrendering.
And giving your soul permission to dance with the ‘Gods of nature’.
Beautiful Fran.

catmint January 6, 2014, 7:51 pm

thank you, Fran, for understanding me, and finding the words to express those powerful states of mind and being. But why no fiction for inspiration, why no poetry?

Fran Sorin January 6, 2014, 9:40 pm

Catmint –
Ahhhh- point well taken.
Actually, I do read and use poetry on my GGW posts from time to time.
Honestly, I am not much of a fiction reader BUT perhaps you could write a post or send in a list of some of your faves. Thanks for thoughts! Warmly, Fran

Fran Sorin January 6, 2014, 9:46 pm

Dear Ann –
Your phrase – ‘One garden at a time’ is a powerful one. If we are totally present to what we are doing and feeling in the garden, we are at peace – with no concerns about the future or thoughts of the past. And if you make a difference in one other individual’s life – as you clearly did with the woman you mentioned – that is a lot! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Ann. Warmly, Fran

Fran Sorin January 6, 2014, 9:50 pm

I started laughing when I read that you find it difficult to pick your veggies sometimes – ditto!! To me, they are my own God given Cezannes –
I know that – when it’s meant to be – you and I will meet – and have a cu of tea or glass of wine in your garden. xxoo-Fran

Fran Sorin January 6, 2014, 9:51 pm

Thanks sweet Elle ~ xxoo-Fran

Fran Sorin January 6, 2014, 10:01 pm

From Susan Gaul – who is unable to post on GGW –

Well said Fran. I just read an article by Kelly Noris about the need for passion in the horticulture industry. While I agreed I think you have raised the discussion to a higher level, a spiritual one. The act of gardening, of interacting with the earth in a dance of give and take is an act involving the whole of creation. Thank you. BTW I still love your book!

Fran Sorin January 6, 2014, 10:04 pm

Susan – If you can send me a link from the Kelly Norris article, I would appreciate it. I love your phrase ‘An act involving the whole of creation’. I may have to borrow that one –
As always, thanks for your thoughts and kind words. With gratitude – Fran

Robín January 7, 2014, 5:17 am

You said and said well :
“”You learn to slow down. And listen to what the land has to tell you.””

That´s the hardest -and more important- thing to learn. We should all try to learn it individually first and then collectively, as a group, then , grow it as a town, and as states or nations, here and there.

Fran Sorin January 7, 2014, 9:46 am

Robin –

I LOVE the way you phrased the process. Thank you for writing the words below ~ I plan on borrowing it. With gratitude, Fran

That´s the hardest -and more important- thing to learn. We should all try to learn it individually first and then collectively, as a group, then , grow it as a town, and as states or nations, here and there.

Robín January 7, 2014, 10:16 am

You may borrow them, Fran. I like you like my words. And yet English is my third language. Un beso desde España.

Fran Sorin January 7, 2014, 10:44 am

Robin – I’m smiling. Thanks for your generosity ~ With gratitude – Fran

Cathy Taughinbaugh January 8, 2014, 1:31 pm

Hi Fran,

What a beautiful way to describe gardening. It is an amazing way to nurture the soul. You bring gardening up to a whole new level that can often get overlooked. Even though I’m confined to my backyard when I garden, it helps me connect with nature. I get lost in the moment. I feel the flow and the inner peace. Great list of books. I’ll definitely keep this one to refer back to. Take care.

Josephine Ayre January 16, 2014, 9:39 pm

This was so poetic! I had never really thought of gardening as something that I would enjoy doing – it was always something that my father and grandfather spent their weekends doing to supposedly avoid their wives and endless lists of chores. Then I bought my first home (whose garden was a total dump) and that all changed.

I completely agree with your resolution for 2014 – add me to the list, as well as my additional point of getting the garden finished! I’m in the planning stage for my first garden boxes (either side of the front door) and cannot choose between all of the beautiful and fragrant plants out there!

Melissa Green July 25, 2016, 4:15 am

Hi Fran! Gardening always brings the harmony in my life when I feel lost. I want to teach my children to love garden because gardening will teach them to responsibility. Unlike most of the things our children have access nowadays, gardening does not provide an instant reward. They will learn to be patient as they wait for their efforts to pay off.

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