It was not until friends and business associates began to ask me if I was planning to retire that I became a gardener. They had good reason to ask: I was giving up an active life in a big city (the business hub of the American south) for a downsized, but no less active, existence in the country. I figured that the General Motorses and Cokes of the world might not like me so much any more, but I would find new, smaller clients, for my marketing and PR services, and in the meantime I’d scratch the dirt in my patch of exurban soil and plant a few petunias.

By accident (well, actually, during a lunch with my friend Patricia Bowen), I discovered that there is such a thing as a “Master Gardener” program, so I applied, got in, attended classes, passed tests, served an internship and got certified!

That was four years ago. Every year since then, my garden has held out ever-greater promise and then delivered on those promises. Here are three benefits you, too, can experience from gardening.

First of all, it provides an opportunity for physical exercise. I’m always a bit puzzled when friends tell me they are going to the gym to work out and have to be home by a certain time, because the landscape service is coming and new plantings have to be discussed. Gardening can take the place of going to the gym and, with your car remaining in the garage, is gentler on the planet.

A garden provides peace, shelter and inspiration. Grow a meditation garden, with a few strategically placed trees, some shrubs and lots of herbs. Add an inspirational statue and a water feature and place a bench where you can sit and relax.

Grow good stuff! Herbs, such as rosemary, basil, parsley, chives and thyme, can be used in the kitchen almost daily. And is there anything better for a summer lunch than an Insalata Caprese, assembled with a red ripe tomato from your own garden, lush, fragrant basil leaves (ditto) and a few slices of fresh Mozarella (O.K., we do still sometimes have to rely on supermarkets and delis!), drizzled with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil? If you must, add a pinch of salt and a twist of the pepper mill.

It is probably no wonder that many Master Gardeners are 55 and older; in our busy worlds, it often takes time to begin to realize what is truly important – to plant the tomatoes and to smell the basil!

Author's Bio: 

Lya Sorano is a Writer, an Internet Strategist, and a Certified Master Gardener. Her gardening columns have appeared in the Barrow-Jackson Journal, the Georgia Asian Times and The Nooze. When not writing, or working with her clients, she tends an eclectic garden of her own, where perennials and herbs are her favorite plants.