As I was working in my garden this morning, I realized that there are two types of gardens in my neighborhood: a flower garden and a vegetable garden. In my yard, I have a vegetable garden complete with tomatoes, basil, squash, eggplant, and okra. It's not very big, but it will suffice for our family. My neighbor has a beautiful flower garden with many colors, layers, and heights involved. We both spend plenty of time in our respective gardens, tending to our plants' needs. We both weed, water, fertilize (mine is organic), and sit enjoying the views of our gardens. I would guess that we spend about the same amount of time in our gardens and they each produce very well.
My daughter and I have labored in our garden from the birth of each seedling. She was there to help me pick out the materials it took to make our compost, build our box planters, lay them out in our yard, and put up the netting so the squash have something to climb.
When a dresser in our house became structurally unsound, she helped me lug the drawers to the backyard so we could use them as boxes for our garden as well.
We picked out the seedlings for our vegetables, delicately placed them in small pods so they could sprout, and waited for them to show their tiny heads. When there was enough green popping out of their black house, we moved the pods to their new, permanent home. Each day, my daughter lugs the garden hose to the dresser drawers, pulls out her gardening gloves and hand trowel, and helps me ensure our garden grows big and strong. We note the different colors in our garden. As my neighbor's garden has beautiful hues of purple, pink, and blue, ours shows mainly green for now. When we finish tending to our garden we go inside and check the internet for pictures of what our garden will look like in the future. It hasn't yet registered in my daughter's mind that those tiny green tomatoes will turn into a brilliant, bold red. She doesn't quite understand that our eggplant will "magically" become a royal purple. She just thinks that our garden gets taller... and for now that's okay. When our garden matures, it will not only be a beautiful sight (with all those colors of ripened foods), it will be a tasty treat. My garden will grow to show the beauty of growth, color, and healthy foods.
When I finished my morning gardening, I realized that if I had to choose, I'd rather be a vegetable garden than a flower garden. Sure, flower gardens are pretty to look at, and if you're good at picking out the flowers that go in your garden, they smell lovely as well. You can cut those flowers to display on your table, but that's pretty much where it ends. A vegetable garden has the color and beauty of a flower garden (a lot of vegetables produce beautiful flowers where the food is "born") but when the produce ripens you can take advantage of delicious recipes afterward. I'd rather be useful in life for more than just something to look at... I'd rather look back at the end of my life and be able to say that I added more than just beauty to my world during my time here. A bouquet of flowers doesn't bring people together quite like a plate of eggplant parmesan made with your fresh basil, tomatoes, and eggplants. A pretty vase sitting on top of your table is nice, but isn't a grilled steak with baked butternut squash and a side salad from your garden much better? Wouldn't you rather have your child be able to go grab her afternoon snack right off the plant rather than the sugar-filled foods that come from the grocery store shelves? I sure would!