Special to the Village News
My lifelong journey with gardening and the natural world began at the age of seven years young. Born in the 40s, my exposure to the plant world began just outside the back door, and it was exciting to spend hours playing in vacant lots and taking hikes through the surrounding neighborhood.
It was simple times, and we kids enjoyed hanging around, playing in alleys, running through fields of corn, and playing hide & seek, with tons of new hiding places to discover each day.
I remember coming home from grammar school (which we walked to every day) and changing into my play clothes, and out the back door I sprang, hearing Mom saying, "now you come back home when the streetlights come on." Oh yes, those were simple times to grow up in.
Our small street club of guys and gals gathered to find many new adventures throughout the neighborhood. We built forts in empty fields from salvaged scraps we found here and there. We played stickball-like baseball in the street, using cars or lampposts as bases as we ran around, always watching out for any oncoming cars.
But one of my memorable joys was working in the family garden with my mom and climbing an old avocado tree, not knowing I would become an avocado rancher in Fallbrook one day.
I built my first redwood greenhouse at 12 and grew assorted plants and seed starts for the family veggie plot. The greenhouse was my sanctuary and a horticultural playhouse for me and my buddies to spend hours learning about and growing many plants and flowers we sold along with Kool Aid on hot summer days out by the street corner.
At 7, I started my first company and pushed a reel lawn mower around the neighborhood, earning 2 bits (25 cents) per lawn. By the end of a Saturday, my blue jeans had enough 2-bits to go to the movies, buy a box of popcorn, milk duds, and bring a buddy along for a fun Sunday matinée, and that brought happiness to me.
Another learning curve was a job as a waterboy at a local nursery after school as a teenager, and I learned about new plants in my quest to self-educate with plants.
I attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and the plant world broadened my green horizons even more; I was on my future life's green paths journey, and I am thankful.
In the summers, I worked at the world's largest Cymbidium orchid farm in Goleta, and as a gardener on a large estate; I was expanding my passion for nature and the plant world.
My appreciation of the plant kingdom grew and transcended into a spiritual level from digging a hole and planting some seeds, an almost sacred ritual practiced for thousands of years by mankind.
Watching plants grow and tending them gives me a sense of purpose for my being on earth, and while enjoying each day, my observations became more acute to the little things out in nature.
The beauty of a new bloom, the glimpse of the sun dappling through trees, a chipping songbird, the scampering of a squirrel, the aroma of spring sweet peas, the light whisper of grasses in the breeze, the sight of dew on a morning spider web, the tinkle of wind chimes and for all these and more I am thankful for.
My garden gives me food and sustenance with Meyer lemons, summer tomatoes, year-round rosemary, chives, red strawberries, potatoes, mint, avocado, guava, fresh organic eggs, and so much more.
I am outside every day, rain or shine, and my skin registers if it's hot or cold. The rain can be chilling or temperate, and the breeze is when I look at the tree's canopy and observe the strength of the blowing wind. Outside in nature, my body acts like a barometer gauge to the existing weather conditions and invigorates me with positive energy.
Every day begins with expectations of goals and objectives that I hope to obtain. I try to set the bar high, so even if I don't hit the moon, I still dance amongst the stars in my gardening world.
This activates my horticultural skills to open up the many years of working within the plant kingdom, and it excites me to always be on a learning curve being outside with nature.
We are so fortunate to live in Southern California and have the ability to be outdoors in our gardens, to stroll through Live Oak park and enjoy the oak woodlands and the quiet, to walk around the neighborhood with a street friend year-round, to take a short drive to our local mountains to experience the snow and the wonders of the forest habitat.
Once, I did an experiment with my kids to prove that we could be skiing up in Big Bear early in the morning, drive down to the desert for lunch, then over the hills and surf that same day in Oceanside.
So take notice, register what you see, and count your blessings, for nature is all about you, and so many fascinating things to observe.
Sometimes just sitting under a tree can calm you from your daily routine and is practiced in the orient as “forest bathing.”
Learn to practice the art of permaculture within your garden space, which works within the harmony of nature and the earth, for this is a good thing.
Enjoy the falling leaves, the bark on trees, the pebbles on a beach, or the clouds above, for no two billowy puffs are exactly alike as they move across and paint the canvas in the sky.
Being outside more often might be just the tonic you need, for you never know what new life adventures await you when in contact with the wide dynamic green world.
Gardening has a language of its own and has proven to stimulate one's health and a good feeling of belonging, and this science is called horticultural therapy.
Give yourself a dose of nature somehow, for each day is unique and shall not return again. You are your own caretaker and thank others for lending a helping hand when needed.
Our planet is undergoing some dynamic changes now, and she needs all the earth stewards she can muster up for its future preservation, and you and yours can be a vital part of this challenge.
For me, nature has been a source of inspiration, adventure, delight, a teacher, and a companion for as long as I can remember.
Roger Boddaert – Maker of Natural Gardens & The Tree Man of Fallbrook can be reached at [email protected] or 760-728-4297.