Stop and smell the roses — literally

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that the earth laughs in flowers. If my backyard is any indication, Shelby County is bursting with laughter this summer.

After working, volunteering for my favorite causes and contemplating the politics and news of the day, I replenish my soul by looking around my abundant garden.

Make no mistake, I have a brown thumb (literally and figuratively), but my husband is a talented gardener who has created beautiful landscapes in climates as diverse as Northwestern Ontario and the southern United States.

He has cultivated a variety of plants that provide a feast for the eye from early spring to late fall.

With more than 20 species of roses ranging from antique to knockout along with an abundance of lilies, irises, azaleas, gladiolas, dahlias, summer phlox, butterfly bushes, lambs ear, holly bushes and flowering trees (just to name a few of our plants) something is always in bloom.

Sometimes, in addition to nourishing my soul, the garden serves as a low-cost fitness center. Deadheading, pruning, weeding and mulching provide weight training, while mowing provides some aerobic activity.

Many other benefits flow from this miracle of nature.

Fresh rosemary spices our food. Tea roses and oriental lilies provide perfume and beautiful decor for our home. Our garden nourishes our bodies and spirits. Now, if you are like me and have a brown thumb but are not lucky enough to have someone in your household to make your garden grow, don’t despair. Shelby County has an abundance of beautiful, naturally occurring plants on which to feast your soul.

In the spring, there are, among other things, wisteria, dogwood trees, azaleas and red buds.

This time of year, there are rainbows of crepe myrtles on which to gaze. So, just take a walk, and you too can have the benefits of a backyard garden without the heavy lifting.

In these times of around-the-clock access to our work, economic troubles and harsh partisan political discourse, we sometimes forget to take time to enjoy the simple things. It seems that summer is the perfect opportunity for those of us in this neck of the woods to slow down and smell the roses.

Kimberly Barrett is the vice president of student affairs at the University of Montevallo.