Life is a Garden. Can You Dig It?

It’s that season again—time to reacquaint yourself with Mother Nature as you roll up your sleeves to spruce up those winter-ravaged flowerbeds. Of course, die-hard gardeners started culling through seed catalogs and dreaming up elaborate planting schemes way back in October. But the rest of us still have time to visit our local garden centers to unearth a simple but inspired plan.

Pulling weeds, clearing brush, and pruning your garden patch is actually quite therapeutic. In fact, an hour’s worth of de-winterizing can burn as many calories as 60 minutes of moderate bicycling or dancing.

Whether you aspire to be a “proper gardener” or just want to enjoy some fresh air and exercise, it’s quite satisfying to reap what you sow. (And, it’s really nice to sit in your garden with a cup of tea and watch the world go by.)

Grow flowers and you’ll pick a plethora of pretty blossoms to brighten up your home. Cultivate vegetables and you’ll savor vitamin-packed soups and colorful salads throughout the summer.

Transform your outdoor activities into a multi-sensory experience with The Joy of Gardening CD by David H. Yakobian. It’s a compilation designed for iPoders who enjoy plugging into melodies like “Claire de Lune,” “Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and “The William Tell Overture” while weeding, pruning, and planting.

Sowing the Seeds
Although you can begin to prepare your garden in early spring, experts advise planting only after Mother’s Day, just to be sure that all chance of frost has passed. Put anything but a pansy into the ground before mid-May, and you might be hard-pressed to coax life from the soil. If you’re not sure how to begin, just ask a friend with a green thumb. Most gardeners are more than happy to share their know-how—and that’s why so many horticultural organizations are sprouting up.

“Joining a garden club offers a sense of community because not only are we working to beautify our town, but we also meet neighbors who enjoy contributing to an ecologically wonderful end-product. It’s a creative way to express personal style and stimulate our brains, both indoors and out,” says Lucy Monahan of Mendham, president of the Mendham Garden Club (973-543-2495). Like many horticultural groups around the state, the Mendham Garden Club enjoys working outdoors but also visits arboretums, studies floral design, and learns new planting techniques.

To find out if your town has its own group of green thumbers, visit ( The Garden Club of New Jersey, founded in 1925, is a federation of individual local garden clubs throughout the state with more than 5,000 members, age 6 to adult.

For avid gardeners of any age, it’s all about communing with nature, getting a little dirt under the fingernails, and sharing time with kindred spirits. This spring, get into gardening—and see what blossoms.

Gardens Worth Seeing

Throughout the month of May, the Women’s Association of Morristown Memorial Hospital will host the Mansion in May decorator showhouse at Fawn Hill Farm in Harding Township. The 34-acre property features an exquisite 21-room stone manor home surrounded by magnificent gardens in full bloom.

Each year, the Garden Conservancy sponsors private and public gardens that open their gates to the public. Before you set out, visit for hours of operation for these and other gardens in the area.


The dates for the Garden Conservancy Open Days private gardens listed in our March/April print
edition were incorrect. Here are the correct dates:

April 24
Nutley: Silas Mountsier, 205 Rutgers Place
Blooming bulbs, cherries, magnolias, garden

May 15
Far Hills: Hay Honey Farm, 130 Stevens Lane
Wet meadow, rhododendron glade, vegetable, and cutting garden.

June 5
Chester: Hedgerows, 200 Old Chester Road
Perennial borders, herb garden, grazing sheep.

Before you go, visit websites to find out which months are best to view specific flower species.

Bloomfield: Oakeside-Bloomfield Cultural Center.
Registered as a national historic place; three-acre garden (

Short Hills: Greenwood Gardens.
Formal gardens, pebbled walks, rustic stone tea houses (

Upper Montclair: Presby Memorial Iris Garden.
World’s largest display garden of irises

Far Hills: Leonard J. Buck Garden.
Nationally known rock garden; extensive perennials

If you like this article please share it.