Flowers to the people” is more than a motto at Pinder’s Nursery, which has served the green thumbs of Palm City since 1975. It’s a promise to empower the community through nurturing gardens (both indoors and outdoors) and helping people discover mindfulness in tending to plants. Terri Pinder, founder of The Community Garden Center at the nursery, helps gardeners of all skill levels understand how plants can help them create a profound connection to themselves, to other gardeners, and to previous generations. Here, she discusses the wellness benefits of plant parenting and how to get started on your own plant therapy journey.
How does taking care of plants contribute to overall wellness?
Plunging your hands into the earth has spiritual, psychological, and physical benefits. Science says that the microbes that live in rich, fertile earth create a warmth that you can feel at the center of it. When you pull your hands out, those microbes are aerosolized. You breathe them in, and they feed your own microbiome, which enhances the production of serotonin and melatonin—two neurotransmitters essential to calmness, restorative sleep, and general healing. The garden provides a direct path to that.
Can you explain how tending to plants relates to mindfulness?
Gardening reminds us of a quality of mindfulness called equanimity (mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper). It’s when we are okay with the way things are. Being in the garden means accepting what’s happening right now. It all comes down to choice, and when you make a choice, you see immediate and unclouded responses from that plant.
Any advice for beginners?
I think you always begin with the end in mind and ask yourself what you want to gain from your garden. I usually advise people to start small, with a container or a pot. Pay attention to what the plant experiences and then adjust. Paying attention helps you recognize patterns, and those patterns are so reassuring. They take us back to the seasons and the predictable things, offering a sense of security.
When you’re picking a space for your garden, in addition to being small, make the expectation realistic. Plants need water, light, soil to stabilize them, and nutrients, so choose a place that can provide the basics. Once you find a spot that suits what you want to accomplish, notice how you experience that space. This is where the intentionality and mindfulness begin—choosing a place that supports your success.
Pinder’s tips for creating a blissful space for nature’s fluttering beauties
• Choose a sunny spot
• Plant flowers like milkweed to feed Monarch caterpillars
• Plant penta and salvia to attract butterflies of all sizes
• If planting indoors, plants in the pothos family (philodendron, thaumatophyllum, epipremnum aureum) are resilient and forgiving. Vining plants are vigorous and grow roots from their internodes, so if you mess up, you can always salvage pieces and start again.