Is social distancing a natural thing for gardeners?

Is social distancing a natural thing for gardeners?

A better term is “physical distancing,” which is literally what I have to do when I am working in the front garden and anyone walks by. Rather than tread on April-soggy soil, I retreat down the walkway as it’s the only way to put enough feet between me and the sidewalk. Otherwise, nothing stops me from my usual spring chores. Garden centers are open, many deliver, and working outside on my own property seems safe enough.

The usual conclusion is that gardening offers a satisfying outlet in these days of uncertainty and fear. I even wrote a column that started, “If you’re a gardener, this is your time.” It’s true, as far as it goes. But then I realize how social the gardening world really is. One good barometer is our Facebook gardening group, which is receiving dozens of requests to join on a daily basis. I think this is as much about people reaching out from isolation as it is about people wanting to start gardening.

Is it really completely satisfying to watch spring perennials and bulbs burst into color and bloom with nobody else to see it? To a certain degree, it’s nice, but then you want to share it somehow. We’re all doing that on social media, but nothing compares with the humblebrag walk along the perennial border with a friend, making sure to point out the problems, not the triumphs. This is so universal, it appears in just about any novel that has gardener characters in it. Even those in rural isolation find ways to share.

That’s why I have all digits crossed that our midsummer garden walks will emerge intact as COVID-19 begins to wane. I have to be realistic and think it must be 50-50 best, and, if these events do survive, they will be very different. Everything will be very different.

I would like to show somebody my hellebores.



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