Gardening is a learning experience

>> Friday, October 19, 2007

I am grateful for finally having the space to garden as I always knew I could. And I am grateful for being healthy enough to get out there and do it.

I am grateful that gardening is such a popular activity. Its popularity has made possible the wide variety of plants and the nurseries that make them available.

I am grateful for the variety of media available to give me ideas, to spark my imagination and to answer my many questions either through websites, bulleting boards, blogs, podcasts, books, magazines, and to a lesser extent radio and television.

I want to take this opportunity to send my heartiest thank-you to each and every one of my wonderfully talented, generous, caring fellow gardeners who take the time to blog their experiences so beginners like me can learn.

And I have learned a lot this past Spring and Summer. About how plant colors interact with one another. How to put color combinations together to design a ‘cool’ setting or a ‘hot’ setting. About how some colors give the feeling of depth, and how texture can give the illusion of movement. I have also discovered that there are no hard and fast rules. That it is okay to experiment to find your own unique style.

I have begun to learn ‘nursery speak’, the hidden meanings behind words like creeping (invasive) or airy (long and thin).

About what plants won't grow in 'full sun' areas like I was told they would. Without casting too much discredit onto nurseries trying to sell their wares, I realize they look at ‘full sun’ from the view point of warning potential buyers to give the plant at least six hours of direct sun. My experience has now shown me that more than six hours of full sun can be detrimental to the plants health. I probably should have watered more for those particular plants, but I don’t know which plants need more water in the ‘full sun plus’ areas just by reading the warning that they need full sun. Communication is a wonderful thing, but only if all pertinent information is properly conveyed.

I have learned how valuable it is to have someone you can count on to actually water everything when you are on vacation.

I learned I need to start seeds indoors earlier than I did this year. As well as the fact that I can actually make it work.

Another thing I learned is that this can be a pretty expensive hobby if you let it get out of hand. The rewards are far greater though. Being outside in the sun, exercising your knees and back, and shoulders and legs, and neck, and oh, what a workout!

I have learned the true value of a great pair of pruning shears over the economy of a good pair. Likewise with every other garden tool available.

Other rewards come later after you see all of your planning and hard work come to fruition and even if only one person tells you it looks great, then it was worth it. That’s the moment when you take a break, stand back and don’t look at your work with a critical gardeners eye but look at it for the beauty it is and say “You know, it does look good”.

When dozens of birds, butterflies and bees come around to visit, that is when it will really hit me. That I have actually created an environment that is natural enough for wildlife to nourish themselves, find protection and feel comfortable enough to nest here. That is when I know I have achieved something really important and worthwhile.

I already have more than my fair share of birds coming around to all of the feeders I have filled every day for the past three years. I’m used to, daily, seeing a variety of Finches and Doves. I am regularly visited by Hummingbirds, Starlings, Flickers, Mallards, Chick-a-dees and the occasional Red-tailed Hawk. Now I am to the point that I am anxiously looking for the never before seen birds that migrate through here.

This year there were more bees than last year. Next year I hope there will be even more. This year there were only the white cabbage butterfly and once I saw a red butterfly, but next year, there will be more, I’m just sure of it.

I learned that maintaining a garden bed is a lot of work. I was already in tune with the rhythm of digging, amending, planting, feeding, and weeding with vegetables. But this year it was different. This time it is with perennials. I have already gone through three winters of caring for roses and fruit trees and one winter of caring for a few other perennials.

This winter I will be caring for so many more plants than I ever have before and attempting to learn the timing of when to mulch and which plants should be covered and which ones should not that I am really looking forward to how they come through.

Gardening has taught me to accept nature on its terms, and if you can do that and provide its very basic needs then you will be rewarded by the simple yet complex beauty that only nature can provide.


Kylee October 23, 2007 at 8:10 PM  

What a fabulous post!!! You have just given many of the reasons I love gardening so much. Very few activities we choose to do can be this rewarding.

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