Meet my friend Christine, a San Antonio-based hair stylist who is preparing to return to work after nearly two months off. She wasn’t on vacation in Thailand or Costa Rica; her salon was closed as part of shelter-in-place restrictions because of the coronavirus. If you ask her what she did during this time, she’ll tell you that she spent most of it gardening.
Q: What was your thought process through the last few months?
A: When they first announced the salon was going to close, I was really scared. I felt like I was going to panic. I was worried about my bosses because the rent for the salon is really expensive. I worried about how they were going to keep from losing the salon. I was worried about my family–I’m kind of the breadwinner right now. My husband is building a business from the ground up, and he hasn’t really gotten to a place where he can afford to pay himself a salary yet.
Then it was a mix of being worried but also enjoying myself. I know that sounds terrible, but I got to wake up in the morning and drink my coffee and read, and then I’d spend most of the day working in my garden.
Q: Sorry to interrupt, but what type of garden do you have? Vegetables? Flowers?
A: My backyard gets filtered sunlight, so it’s all pretty much ornamental plants along with a few herbs. I have everything from a cactus to plumeria trees to plumbagos.
Q: So no vegetable garden.
A: No. I’d like to have one, but the light just isn’t right in the backyard. We’re talking about putting in a bed in the front, though, especially in light of everything that has happened this year.
Q: Your state of mind sounds pretty reasonable so far.
A: Well I had to stop watching the news all morning like I used to. I’d check it to see what the weather was going to be like and then I’d turn it off. That helped. But mostly it was great to be working in the yard all day. I got a lot of projects done, and it gave me a sense of peace. By the time they told us we were going to go back to work, I didn’t want to go anymore! Obviously I’m grateful to be back at work, but you know what I mean. I could get used to being retired.
Q: What were some of the parts of gardening that really helped you with stress and anxiety?
A: Watching things grow really makes me happy. Every morning I walk through the yard and see what’s new. Are there any new leaves? Any new flowers? During the spring this is so magical. Sometimes I cut flowers and herbs and make an arrangement for the dining room table. When it rains the plants get so happy, so we built a rain barrel to collect some of it. I use that to water plants until it runs out, and then I have to switch to using the garden hose. I want to build a second rain barrel soon. Plants like rain water so much more.
Then, throughout the day, as long as it’s not too hot I like to sit out on the porch and just be in that area. It makes me so happy to be at home with all of my plants. I think I’m just a crazy plant lady.
Q: Any issues with mosquitos?
A: Definitely. I ordered an oscillating outdoor fan for the patio, and it helps when you’re sitting out there. I really hesitate to use pesticides or anything like that.
Q: What are your favorite flowers?
A: It’s so hard to pick one! The roses are doing really great this year. I love cut flowers. The plumbagos are starting to come in now, too. And we had a really good week or two with the jasmine along the back fence. It made the whole yard smell so fragrant.
Q: Any advice to people who may not consider themselves “green thumbs?”
A: Just get some plants and do it. Take out your credit union credit card and buy a plant in a pot if you want to start slowly. Read about the plant that you bought. Water it appropriately and it will probably stay alive. A garden is a wonderful thing to have in your life.