A garden is more than just a place to grow flowers and vegetables. Rachel and I have spent many years creating a tranquil space where we can also cultivate nostalgia. Life is always changing. It’s important to have a place where we can feel not just comfortable, but safe. A garden can do that.

The garden we’ve created is an integral part of our lives, purposely constant, but never stagnant. We all need a certain amount of familiarity and predictability in our lives.

Nostalgia isn’t about retreating into the past. Just the opposite. It’s about drawing strength from past accomplishments when current challenges seem insurmountable.

When we were young, the world was full of promise and excitement for the future. Reconnecting with our younger selves helps to integrate all the phases of our lives. The sum total of our memories make us who we are.

Nostalgia is bittersweet. Sweet because it allows us to revisit the past, bitter because we know those days are gone forever.

A garden can stir your emotions regardless of what you chose to grow. Vegetables and herbs are just as exciting as any ornamental or decorative plants. Most importantly, a garden is a reflection of those who tend to it.

Don’t worry about being trendy. Surround yourself with things you love and things that make you happy. Use nostalgic cues to deliberately improve your mood. College memorabilia and military keepsakes are powerful reminders of the heydays of our youth.     

The most effective triggers stimulate all of our senses. Whenever Rachel and I are in the garden, the first thing we do is turn on some music. Nostalgic songs are like time capsules capable of stirring our emotions and making us want to sing. Remember your first date? There was probably music playing.   

Campfires are so relaxing. A fire pit recreates that same feeling: soothing warmth, shimmering flames, crackling sound and smoke that you can almost taste.       

Fourth of July celebrations with my uncle Clarence are some of my earliest childhood memories. In our family, holidays usually involve lots of food. The wisps of sweet smoke coming from his grill made us all happy-dance in anticipation of eating his great tasting barbecue.           

Rachel fondly recalls the fresh smell stirred up as her father Derek gently dug root vegetables for dinner when she was a girl. We always include potatoes, carrots and parsnips in our own garden, not just for the food, but for the memories. Nettie, her mother, planted colorful, fragrant flowers in all sorts of whimsical containers, a practice that Rachel continues. Her family has attended the same church for generations. The sanctuary is more than 1,000 years old. The musty smell of damp stone masonry mixed with the smell of fragrant meadows from the surrounding English countryside trigger memories of life’s most cherished and solemn milestones – baptisms, weddings and funerals. Decorating your garden space with religious icons and sculptures creates a personal sanctuary where you can find inner peace and spiritual comfort. The soft tinkling of wind chimes can also be very calming. Turn your garden into a peaceful place to relax.

Rachel and Ivan Minnis are avid gardeners. They live in Leavenworth. For more information, visit The Minnis Rose Garden on Facebook. Contact them at rnlyes@hotmail.com