May—the month where the last traces of snow finally melt away, and the trees begin sprouting their delicate green buds. The sun that was so scarce in the winter months now grows stronger and shines for longer. The mushy yellow grass that once suffocated under the ice begins to revive and grow healthy and green. The earth goes from dead to alive. With this change in season, I notice a change in myself, too. I feel more energetic and in a better mood (partly because exam season had just ended a few weeks earlier). To me, the month of May means new beginnings, which never fail to excite me.
Part of the excitement I experience in May comes from being surrounded by plants and nature. Every spring, I enjoy the moments of digging at the rich earth, preparing the soil for the delicate new plants that will soon live in it. Although it’s hard, tiring work, it is well worth it in the end.
For the rest of the summer, I enjoy opening the backyard door and stepping into the heavy summer heat. I admire the pink and yellow roses, as well as a honeysuckle bush that hits me with a sweet, musky-smelling perfume each time I pass it. I trim the branches of the mulberry tree while watching ants crawl up the trunk. I observe as each bulb, sapling, and seed starts out as a small sprout, and eventually grows into a strong, full plant by the end of the summer.
This scenery never fails to give me a feeling of calmness. My backyard garden is my go-to spot when I want to sort out my thoughts after a long day, or when I want to take a break from staring at a screen for hours. It’s like a form of therapy (except for the mosquitoes).
It turns out, nature actually is used as a form of therapy. Horticultural therapy, as it’s called, “is a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities and the garden landscape to promote well-being for its participants,” particularly those with mental illnesses. I can see why this kind of therapy exists—personally, being around nature never fails to uplift my mood and give my mind clarity. Just looking at plants and nature for a few minutes is enough to achieve this for me.
As the winter months roll in, I watch as the garden I carefully planted just a few months prior withers away into nothingness. I realize that it’s like a human—it starts out young and vibrant, then grows to become aged and feeble.
But wait… it doesn’t have to end there! It is still possible to enjoy plants throughout the colder months, even without a garden. For me, indoor plants are a good (but not perfect!) substitute. If you’re like me and feel a sense of gloom when winter rolls around, consider keeping a small potted plant by your desk or in your kitchen to give your home a boost of greenery. I personally prefer cacti, since they’re low maintenance and live year-round (they only need to be watered once a week!) Aloe plants and bamboo palms are other low-maintenance options that not only serve as great décor, but provide a sense of vibrancy and warmth that is reminiscent of spring.
Although nothing beats the warmth of spring and a fully planted garden, indoor plants serve as a good substitute for whenever you need a little pick me up during those lifeless winter months—both in your mood and in your home. Try being a plant parent for yourself, and I’m sure you won’t look back.