The Power of Gardening: Why we celebrate National Garden Month


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Contact: Rose Getch
(800) 538-7476, ext. 129
rose@garden.org

The Power of Gardening: Why we celebrate National Garden Month

South Burlington, VT (April, 2003) - All it takes is one person, planting tulips and zinnias in a vacant lot. The color and natural beauty cause others to stop and enjoy the view. They decide a few more flowers and maybe some shrubs would get this place on the road to looking like a real park. A meeting, some donations, and a planting day later, a green and growing place is created, and a neighborhood is resurrected. This is how gardening transforms lives.

Celebrate this power during National Garden Month in April, organized by the nonprofit National Gardening Association.

The efforts and contributions of gardeners were first celebrated by a 1986 Presidential proclamation creating the first National Garden Week. Under the direction of the National Garden Bureau, 23 co-sponsoring national horticultural organizations brought official recognition to what gardeners have known for centuries: gardening connects us to the earth and to other people in ways that can transform lives.

Gardening touches almost every aspect of society. In urban neighborhoods gardening has been proven to reduce crime. Research shows patients who garden recover more quickly and feel more hopeful. Educators overwhelmingly report that behavioral problems diminish and responsibility flourishes in children's gardens. Gardening has been shown to improve the quality of life for elders and to decrease recidivism of prison inmates. This is the power of gardening.

"In these times of conflict and uncertainty, we know that gardens are healing, and create connections within families and neighborhoods," says Valerie Kelsey, president of the nonprofit organization founded in 1972 to "promote gardens for all."

"We saw the strength of gardening in the aftermath of September 11 as people looked to each other, first for solace, and then for the comfort of community," she explains. "Millions flocked to public gardens to express this need to reconnect and to heal. It is our dream to again make gardening an important part of community life in this country."

The National Gardening Association envisions children, teachers, senior citizens, home gardeners, and public garden employees joining forces with green organizations, such as the American Horticultural Society, Plant a Row for the Hungry and the California Association of Nurseryman & Garden Centers, to celebrate this power.

Picture students planting rose gardens at their schools. Imagine hospital patients planting rooftop gardens. Think about urban grandmothers and neighborhood children working side by side to restore vacant lots. Now you can see thousands of Americans joining together planting seeds, flowers, bulbs and trees, bringing joy and harmony to those around them.

Events planned to celebrate America's favorite pastime include the "Learning with Roses" grant program that awards StarŪ Rose gardens to schools, flower and gardening heritage festivals, and design workshops to help people garden no matter where they live.

Groups are encouraged to post activities on the National Garden Month calendar at www.nationalgardenmonth.org, and list Web links to their sites. Schools can download applications to win a StarŪ Rose garden.

The site also lists suggestions for garden-related activities for all gardeners, educators, retailers and other interest groups. Powerful and inspirational essays are also posted on the site.

The vision that drives National Garden Month 2003 has inspired NGA's partners, including sponsors Simply Beautiful annuals (www.simplybeautifulgardens.com) StarŪ Roses (www.starroses.com), Soil Soup compost tea brewers (www.soilsoup.com) and WOLF-Garten tools (www.wolf-garten.com), who see gardening as a way to bring us together as members of communities and, ultimately, as one nation.

The National Gardening Association (NGA) was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1972 to spearhead the community garden movement. NGA is best known today for its educational programs, two Web sites (Garden.org and Kidsgardening.com), and consumer research on gardening trends.

"The goal of this year's National Garden Month is to reach non-gardeners and gardeners alike to emphasize the healing, nurturing, spirit of sharing and simple beauty of gardening," Kelsey says. "We believe that every new person we reach could become a gardener for life, and a community can grow closer." Schools, botanical gardens and garden centers should all tune in to www.National Garden Month.org and or the latest news and events planned for National Garden Month 2003.





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