Everyone wants to be happy.
Today, we launch a series of columns to explore ways to gain happiness through gardening.
Previously, each weekly column included garden images to illustrate the current topic. That won’t work for the happiness columns, because they are not readily illustrated with photos from my collection. It might be possible to draw upon emerging artificial intelligence technology to create helpful illustrations (I might try that approach), but here’s an alternative that you might find interesting:
Each column of “Gardening for Happiness” series will include photos, with captions, that exemplify a category of garden plants. You are invited to determine what that category is.
Shining Pink Rock Purslane (Calandrinia spectabilis) blooms 12 months out of the year, with striking 1-1/2-inch single bright cerise blooms on very long (up to 3-foot) stems. Each stem produces at least 10 flowers each. (Tom Karwin)
The answer will be provided at the end of the column. Just for fun, before looking at the answer, decide on your idea of the category.
There are of course different versions of being happy, on various points ranging from mild contentment to wild ecstasy. Choose your ideal!
Achieving your personal form of happiness, according to people who think a lot about this subject, involves (a) a sense of control and autonomy over one’s life, (b) being guided by meaning and purpose, and c) connecting with others.
Those are good basic approaches to happiness, but recommendations for action are usually quite general: get plenty of sleep, exercise, meditate, spend time with family and friends, etc.
For a realistic pursuit of the achievement of happiness, it’s essential to focus on a practical plan organized around your individual interests and priorities. There are several possibilities for such a thematic approach to happiness. For these columns, we will focus on (surprise!) gardening.
Cantua buxifolia is 6-foot, upright shrub with arching branches. In spring, it displays orange to magenta-pink flowers that appeal to hummingbirds. It can be outrageous in bloom but is a somewhat untidy garden plant with a sprawling form and leafless stems. (Tom Karwin)
The pursuit of happiness can take different activities, in various combinations, for different durations, and different schedules. It’s complicated. For that reason, we will explore this topic through a series of columns.
We will need an organizational structure. To begin (it could change), here are the initial stages of this exploration.
• Hands-on gardening.
• Learning and thinking about gardening.
• Linking with other gardeners.
• Communing with nature.
These explorations could evolve over time as we dig deeper into the ideas of happiness specialists. This is not a recognized scientific discipline; it’s more like the cumulative product of thoughtful social scientists and dedicated gardeners.
In addition, it’s the real-world experiences and insights of gardeners who read these columns. Your ideas will be welcome dimensions to this discussion over this series of columns. If you have gardening experiences that have brought you happiness, or suggestions for gardening activities that others would enjoy, you are invited to send them to facebook.com/ongardeningcom.
So, you are invited to follow this series, starting next week with Hands-on Gardening, and to share your views.
Advance tour gardening knowledge
The Monterey Bay chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers has announced its 2023 scion exchange from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Soquel High School, 401 Soquel San Jose Road, Soquel. This is an in-person event. Hundreds of scions will be available for dormant varieties of fruit (apples, stonefruit and more). To review the 2023 Scion Exchange List, visit tinyurl.com/3hj98d72.
Activities will include grafting demonstrations and rootstock sales. Free member access opens at 11 a.m. General public access opens at noon and costs $5.
Hedgehog cactus (Echinobivia “Rainbow Bursts”) grows to about 6-8-inches tall, and has a spectacular display of flowers during the spring and summer. Flowers can be up to 5 inches in diameter, and appear in all shades of white, gold, yellow, orange, pink, red, vivid purple and sometimes even bicolors! (Tom Karwin)
The Cactus & Succulent Society of America will present the webinar, “Your Dreams Have Come True, at 10 a.m., Saturday. The presenter will be Petra Crist, the owner of the Rare Succulents Nursery in Fallbrook. To register for this free event, visit cactusandsucculentsociety.org/.
The Garden Conservancy will present a virtual talk by next-generation landscape designer Lily Kwong at 11 a.m. Jan. 26. Kwong has roots in the urban planning and art worlds with a mission to reconnect people to nature. This event is the second webinar in the Conservatory’s Winter 2023 Virtual Programs, which are fee-based ($5 for conservancy members, $15 for general admission). For registration and additional information, visit gardenconservancy.org.
This week’s photo category
This week’s photos are selections from my garden’s Chile bed. All are plants that grow naturally in Chile, as well as in other parts of South America with a summer-dry (Mediterranean) climate. Some are generally considered native to Peru. Here are their native lands:
• The Red Angel’s Trumpet is native to Peru.
• The Shining Pink Rock Purslane is native to Chile.
• (Cantua buxifolia) is native to Chile, and is also the national flower of Peru and one of two national flowers of Bolivia. Called the Sacred Flower of the Andes
• Hedgehog Cactus grows widely throughout South America, including Chile.
• Fucshia magellanica “Aurea” is native to Chile and Argentina
Enjoy your garden!
Tom Karwin is a past president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Society, a past president and Lifetime Member of the Monterey Bay Area Cactus & Succulent Society, and a Lifetime UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Society, and active with the Pacific Horticultural Society. To view daily photos from his garden, https://www.facebook.com/ongardeningcom-
566511763375123/. For garden coaching info and an archive of previous On Gardening columns, visit http://ongardening.com.
This erect shrub, Fucshia magellanica “Aurea,” grows to 10 feet high and wide and produces many small, tubular, pendent flowers in shades of red, pink and sometimes white. Flowers are followed by reddish purple fruits. (Tom Karwin)