When I first started gardening, I grew vegetables. I began slowly - little patches of lettuce and peas, then a tomato plant. Even though I enjoyed it, gardening was work. I wanted my energy out to result in energy returned. I focused on stuff I could eat.
The garden got bigger whenever I had the time and the space. When I moved onto my own land, I could stretch my food horizon out to a longer term, so planted fruit trees and berry bushes. Learning more, and building up my soil, home-grown food is now plentiful (most years, anyway).
And so, the body satisfied, I started to think about feeding my soul:
"If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one & from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul"
13th Century Persian Poet
"If I had but two loaves of bread
I would sell one of them
& buy White Hyacinths to feed my soul."
I wanted to add beauty to my surroundings. Again, that started slowly - a packet of flower seeds scattered along the edge of the vegetable garden, a six-pack of petunias potted up near the house. Then, as with the food stuffs, I started to think more long-term. Even though I put in a lot of hours out in my yard, I'm basically a lazy gardener at heart. I like having flowers around, but wanted to make it easier. And the light bulb came on.
Perennials! Plant once, and then have blooms forever after! I begged friends for bits of divided iris and daylilies; started my own gallardia and hollyhocks from seed, and dug out roses someone no longer wanted. The daffodil clumps come back even bigger each Spring; the color of the blooms on the sedums rivals the changing autumn leaves.
I love bringing a bit of the beauty inside, too. My little pretties brighten up spots all around the house: a fresh posy graces a corner of my bathroom counter, another on my breakfast table starts my day with a smile. A single rose floats in a thrift store find - an oversize brandy snifter - on the dining room table. I'm surrounded by beauty and indeed, it feeds my soul.