Gardening connects us with our food supply and with nature, can serve as a form of exercise and stress relief, and gets us out into the open air.
For some, gardening is as simple as putting in a few easy-to-grow herbs or planting some bedding flowers for beautification and pleasure.
For others, the science behind gardening challenges the mind and provides stimulation that may delay dementia in the elderly.
“Preliminary studies have reported the benefits of horticultural therapy and garden settings in reduction of pain, improvement in attention, lessening of stress, modulation of agitation, lowering of as needed medications, antipsychotics and reduction of falls,” according to the National Institutes of Health (bit.ly/3UHb6t5).
Whatever your reasons for gardening, there is help at the Cleveland County Wellness Square (The Well) if you want to learn more.
OSU Extension Horticulturist Courtney DeKalb-Myers will teach a spring gardening series that will begin at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 14 in conjunction with the Norman Winter Farm Market.
“Last year, we did six one-hour classes, but this year, we’re going to do four two-hour classes, which gives us some extra time to add in some new topics,” DeKalb-Myers said.
In the past, the series has focused on growing your own food. The new class will include growing ornamentals for landscaping.
In the first class, participants can learn basic botany and the importance of healthy soil.
“If you understand how plants work and how to troubleshoot problems, it will really help later in the season,” DeKalb-Myers said.
DeKalb-Myers said people may attend as many or as few of the classes as they wish.
“Each class stands alone, but there’s a little bit of overlap, and people can ask questions,” she said. “If they feel confident in some areas or want to learn to grow flowers versus food, they can pick and choose the classes they want to attend.”
The class is coordinated with the winter farm market and will be offered the second and third Saturdays of January and February.
“I’m excited because when I’ve taught the class in April, a lot of people said they wish they had had the information sooner,” she said.
Class 2 will be Jan. 21 and will focus on vegetables.
“It covers everything you need to do before plants go into the ground and strategies you can use to keep plants alive,” she said.
Class 3 on Feb. 11 will focus on insects, good and bad.
“We’ll talk about insect and disease control in the garden, but we’ll also talk about good insects and pollinators and their role in a healthy garden,” she said.
The fourth class Feb. 18 is called “Flower Power” and will focus on ornamental plants, including annuals, perennials and landscaping basics.
“Many people have expressed interest in this area, so we’re excited to add it,” she said.
DeKalb-Myers enjoys teaching, and this garden series is a particular favorite, she said.
“I love teaching this series, because I see how much people can learn in a short amount of time. A lot of it is common sense, but they may not have thought about something yet, and when they hear it in the class, it clicks,” she said. “I like to see that I’m helping create more confident gardeners in the community.”
Dekalb-Myers has been teaching free classes at The Well almost since it opened.
“I love teaching during the Farm Market because it’s such a strong community. People enjoy knowing where their food comes from and getting to meet producers and growers and connecting with people through the Farm Market,” she said.
Residents can sign up for the free classes at thewellok.org/all-classes.