Put down that phone! Trade screen time for some green time

Adults spend 11 hours per day looking at screens. Wouldn’t it be nicer if you were in the garden?

We could all use a little less “screen time” and a lot more “green time” — in my humble opinion.

OK, I confess that one of the first things I do in the morning is turn on my phone or computer and check my news feeds — mostly to see what might have happened while I was sleeping. It’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it, but that seems to be the new norm.

It has been estimated that adults spend 11 hours per day looking at screens and check their phones every 10 minutes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, tweens log 4½ hours per day and teens spend almost seven hours. Imagine how much happier and healthier we all might be if we spent that much time in the garden.

Last week was a glorious opportunity to work in our gardens, and that is exactly what I did. It was so nice on Saturday that I was actually working in a T-shirt. It is hard to imagine that someone could be comfortable in a T-shirt in January, but I am living proof that it can be done (and I am not one of those wacky people that insist on wearing shorts 12 months a year).

Not only did I accomplish a ton of chores, but I also felt fantastic when it was all done. There is nothing quite as gratifying as looking back over your hard work and thinking, “I did that, all by myself, and it looks pretty darn good.” And you know what else? I never once thought about the news and all the craziness that is going on.

Getting out in the garden and breathing the fresh air, even if it is only 45 degrees out, working my muscles and observing what is happening with my plants is such a rewarding experience that I can’t help but feel sorry for those who don’t even know what they are missing.

It’s exciting to see what is sprouting up and coming back for another season. You can look down at the crown of a Sedum “Autumn Joy” perennial and where there were six to eight shoots this time last year, there is now twice or three times that many. Immediately, my mind envisions what that is going to look like later in the summer. It’s exhilarating: I can almost feel the endorphins moving from one neuron to the next.

My Daphne odora is oh-so-close to blooming that it is all I can do to wait it out for another week or two. I can still remember the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers from last winter. The snowdrops are also showing color, their nodding white blooms a reminder that other bulbs are not far behind. My first winter aconite, as diminutive as it is, is a cheery surprise in the shade bed on the north side of the house.

It’s really a shame that more people don’t make the effort of introducing a greater variety of plants into their yards. It’s such a simple thing to do and the rewards are endless — especially this time of year when everything seems so dark and lifeless. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. Our gardens are alive, and coming back to life as we speak.

So put down your phone, get off the computer and spend some time in the garden. You’ll feel a hell of a lot better for doing it.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net.

Fruit trees

Attend a free class on how to grow fruit trees in the Pacific Northwest at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. Jan. 26 or at 11 a.m. Jan. 27 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net.

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