Gardening is so often a solitary activity. That’s one of the things I really love about it, in fact. I enjoy the alone time, working without thinking too hard or trying to make conversation. On the other hand, I have also found that gardening serves as the perfect bridge to connect with others.
Gardening as Small Talk
When I moved into my current neighborhood, it felt like being an adult for the first time. I had a real house in a real neighborhood instead of an apartment. All of my neighbors seemed to be older, with empty nests, or facing them soon.
I didn’t exactly fit in and found it a little difficult to say much more to the new neighbors other than idle small talk. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but talking about the weather isn’t terribly personal and can only take you so far. You can complain about local issues or other neighbors, but that doesn’t lead to a positive relationship either.
What I found to be helpful was to talk about gardening. It’s small talk on a little bit more of a personal level. I admired my neighbors’ gardens and flower beds and let them know. I asked for advice, even when I didn’t really need it, just to start a conversation.
When Small Talk Leads to Friendship
Gardening is a safe topic for most people. It can remain an impersonal conversation, but it also allows you to dig a little deeper. When someone talks about their garden you learn about them, whether they mean to share something about themselves or not.
For example, I talked to my next door neighbor about a beautiful perennial bed she started and found out that it memorialized her late husband. That led to more personal conversations about our lives in general.
Talking about gardening doesn’t have to lead to anything deeper than neighborly acquaintance, but it certainly can. I feel much more connected to my neighbors thanks to these outdoor chats and time. We are now friends, look out for each other, take care of each other’s pets, and of course, hang out in the garden together.