During World War II many families around the world were asked to plant victory gardens to supplement limited food rations. But a secondary reason for the gardens was to boost morale; they helped citizens know they were contributing to the war effort and feel gratified by the bounty of food that would result. In 1943 around 18 million families grew victory gardens in the United States alone, including one planted on the White House lawn by the First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt.
In March and April of 2020, as families around the world were shut in their homes facing a different sort of battle with a pandemic, victory gardens, as symbols of hope and life, started popping up again. Even while under restrictions that generally kept people inside, these gardens allowed us to embrace a new and invigorating activity whose rewards we would reap months later. My husband and I joined the movement and repurposed an old, tired garden, filling it with colorful perennials. We count our victory garden as one of the unforeseen blessings of an otherwise challenging year.
Gardens have always been one of my favorite places to be. They are spaces celebrating renewal and vibrant life, away from the noise of screen time and daily obligations. While they need to be tended, requiring us to get our hands and knees right in the dirt to weed out that which doesn’t belong, each spring they surprise and delight us with their blooms.