Outdoor Passions: Mother opens up about gardening hobby

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Kalyani Rao

In the quiet of the evening, Tracey George tends to her fruit trees. Quarantine opened up time for moms who, like George, typically have less time for personal hobbies, including gardening. "It’s something that makes me happy, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it," George said. "Gardening is something that takes time. If you plant a fruit tree, it takes three to eight years before it even produces fruit, so you have to be patient and watch it progress over time.”

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During quarantine, Tracey George, a mother of two daughters, said she relished the opportunity to escape from the world and refresh by spending time in her garden. 

Tracey George (42 years old)

Q. What drew you to gardening?

A: “I like the challenge of growing fruits and vegetables — I like the soil, planting, and watching things grow.”

Q. Why do you think you’ve been interested in it for so long?

A: “It’s something that makes me happy, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. It’s a great stress relief. Gardening is something that takes time. If you plant a fruit tree, it takes 3-8 years before it even produces fruit, so you have to be patient and watch it progress over time.”

Q. What about gardening makes you happy?

A: “The fresh air, being in nature, sunshine, those are all things that really bring me happiness. [I enjoy] growing flowers and fresh vegetables, eating fresh fruit from the garden, and just quietly observing nature. Learning about how different insects and different plants coexist together is interesting.”

Q. What hardships make you reconsider gardening as a hobby?

A: “Extreme weather is difficult for gardeners. When you lose crops because of natural disasters, money can be an issue as losing plants becomes expensive quickly. It can be quite exhausting physical labor — in spring, putting down compost and mulch is physically demanding. I often suffer from a very sore back.”

Q. How do you think gardening has influenced your mindset towards life?

A: “I think I’ve become more observant. If you rush around outside, you can easily get hurt. I’ve become fine-tuned to insect problems, disease, and other issues just from observing my garden every day. You have to keep an eye out because problems can develop really quickly.”

Q. How has gardening changed you as a person?

A: “It’s something that I really love. I always felt passive about everything and I never found hobbies I was passionate about. I liked photography and film, but really getting into gardening has helped me have a focused passion over a long period of time. I feel more like I have interests and a hobby I really love and enjoy.”

Q. Where would your dream garden be?

A: “Somewhere I could grow tropical fruit! Probably Hawaii. No snakes, haha. They have very temperate weather and you can grow bananas, mangoes, and all kinds of amazing fruits.”

Q. Who do you look up to in the gardening world as a mentor or instructor?

A: “There’s a British gardener called Monty Don — I like how he’s not overly pretentious. He’s not a formally trained gardener. He’s just someone who has learned so much about gardening and just loves it. I follow him on Instagram. His garden is beautiful.”