Seek out the garden for physical, emotional wellness

The April showers brought May flowers and our roses are in full bloom this month. Her beauty is badly needed in today’s upside-down world. COVID-19 has turned and upset our regulated lives and schedules, and so do we. Social distancing has mandated the cancellation of many events, including gardening seminars, rose shows, and garden tours. However, the gardening was not canceled. It’s safe and therapeutic.

Gardening is good for us physically

Never underestimate the amount of exercise you can get in a garden. At the moment our gyms are closed, but our gardens are an ideal place to work out, stay fit and burn calories. Think of all the varied movements we make in the garden. We bend, crouch, lift, pull, push, carry and stretch. And if you want to add some cardiovascular training to the mix, throw in some raking and digging!

Exercise activates our positive endorphins for wellbeing, and when we are outdoors we receive the required daily dose of vitamin D3. This month, stakes and tie sticks are used in the rose garden that are large and heavy with flowers, as well as those that bend over and need support. Examine your roses daily for the first signs of pests and pay particular attention to aphids, hoplia beetles, caterpillars and rose snails. Fertilize your roses, and when your beautiful blooms are used up, kill them to prepare the rose for the next flowering cycle.

Make extra squats and bends as you pick up all the fallen petals and leaves and cut out leaves infected with botrytis and rust and black spots. These fungal diseases will be more common this year due to our rainy weather.

Gardening is also good for us mentally

Our gardens are a haven. They assure us that despite the chaos in our world today, beauty and peace still exist. They tell us to come outside every day and they nourish all of our senses.

Carefree timelessness is good for us

Put your tools down regularly and just be. Reverse the familiar phrase and let it become: “Don’t just do something, sit there.” Discover that your garden is a place for meditation, contemplation and spiritual reflection. Escape to this calm, welcoming oasis and feel harmony, peace, tranquility and gratitude.

Your garden is a place of healing and a place to ease your anxiety and stress. Our ears are often attacked by a cacophony of unpleasant noises, but there is nothing in our gardens that insists on being heard. Find a special place in your garden and step into this calming refuge every day. This is a place of escape where you can take a deep breath, listen to the bird choir and watch rays of light shine through the flowers.

It is often difficult to be in the present moment of everyday life, but it is common in a garden. Like meditation and yoga, gardening makes us more alert and allows us to be in the moment where we are focused on the task at hand. Tending and caring for our gardens and roses makes us feel better, calmer, and full of health-giving energy. We remember fond memories and gain insight into our thoughts and feelings, and a garden can provide comfort when our souls need reassurance.

Sometimes when we have suffered a loss, taking care of our plants can bring us through our sadness. In all of these many ways, gardens make our lives quieter, fuller, and richer. This is why gardening is so addicting!

During this time of adversity when everything feels out of control, let the nature and beauty of your roses invade your soul, reduce your worries, restore your positive mood, renew hope and help To make your view of life more rosy. Just as we give our roses our time and love, our roses give back joy and satisfaction and bloom and smell us. Snap photos of flowers, birds and butterflies and share the pictures to fill some of the current social gaps and gaps.

This is definitely the perfect time to pamper yourself and your roommates! Use the petals of unsprayed roses to make rose water, rose biscuits, and rose petal jam. Walk past the rose gardens in your neighborhood. The roses want to see you and you will feel better when you see them!

Perwich is a member of the San Diego Rose Society, an advisory rosary, and a master gardener at UC Cooperative Extension.

Roses and rose blossom jam make afternoon tea a special event.

Roses and rose blossom jam make afternoon tea a special event.

(Rita Perwich)

Rita’s rose petal jam

This is done in a Ball Automatic Jam Maker (purchased on
Fills two to three 6-ounce glasses

10 cups of fragrant, unsprayed rose petals
2 tablespoons of low-sugar pectin
1 2/3 cups of sugar
3-4 tablespoons of pomegranate or grape juice
1 tablespoon of rose flower water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon butter

Harvest fresh flowers in the morning. All roses are edible, but the flavor is usually more pronounced in the fragrant red and pink varieties. I particularly like thin-leaved roses like Gertrude Jekyll, Rose de Rescht, and Francis Dubreuil, but thick-leaved hybrid tea roses like Mister Lincoln, Papa Meilland, and Firefighter also make good jam.
Hold the rose petals and use kitchen scissors to cut the petals into thin strips. Make sure that the bitter white tip is not attached to the base of each petal.
Sprinkle pectin all over the bottom of the ball jam maker. Add rose petals, sugar, juice, lemon juice, and butter.
Choose Jam. Hit Enter. “Jam will be ready in 21 minutes.
Put jam in sterilized bottles. Preserve by canning or refrigerate for three weeks and freeze for up to 1 year.

Variation: omit the juice and add 1 to 2 cups of chopped organic strawberries to 8 cups of rose petals.

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