There is a stereotype of gardening as a “soft” activity, a gently escapist pursuit suited to retirees with time on their hands and an aversion to loud sounds. This stereotype is false. Gardening is one of the most essential of all physical and intellectual activities.

Gardening yields literal fruit… and veg, and herbs – the core ingredients of the healthiest diets. It is wonderful exercise, inviting us to bend and stretch and move in a way that keeps our bodies young and mobile. It may be used to create the most extraordinary beauty in and around our homes, providing us with comfort and joy as well as a sense of creative satisfaction.

And when considered in the abstract, gardening provides us with an essential analogy for the cultivation of our selves and lives beyond the garden wall.

Like gardening, living our lives to their fullest involves a complex, subtle and habitual process of nurturing something alive so that it flourishes over time. We learn the science of the creatures and materials we are working with, often through painful trial and error. We develop value judgments about what is and isn’t desirable, and learn to reconcile these ideals with realities which are more often than not beyond our control. We learn to seize serendipitous opportunities when they arise, and to live with, and even to leverage, unexpected setbacks.

And over time we build up a rich toolkit of skills and habits that aids us in our journey.

Therefore, incorporate gardening into your daily routine, and cultivate the habit of thinking about living your life well as a process akin to nurturing a beautiful, flourishing garden.