Sunday, May 27, 2007

5 Rules of Wicked Gardening

I’ve noticed that several blogs have listed their particular rules of gardening and it has made me think about what rules I have for myself. Here they are:

1. A garden should be interesting from when looking across the yard and when looking up close, butt in the dirt. This lily is a tiny treasure, hidden at the base of the butterfly bush in the butterfly garden. I missed it three times just walking by. It wasn’t until I sat down to weed that I noticed it. To me, that is the difference between a landscaped area and a garden. A landscaped yard looks great from the street driving by, but a garden requires you to stop and look at it. I love taking someone in the garden and showing them everything they missed at first glance: the ginger blossoms under the elephant ears, the passion flower hidden by leaves, the canna shoots just appearing up from the dirt.

2. A gardener should learn the correct Latin names of all their plants, then promptly forget them. This ain’t school, baby. Gardening should be fun. That said, I firmly believe in learning all the important things about your plants, and rarely plant anything that I haven’t collected considerable information about. Does it do well in this area? What kind of water needs does it have? Do I know of anyone who has it their yard? What do ladies at the local nursery know about it? What is the buzz about this plant on the net? I’ll learn all of the important stuff, just don’t ask me to pronounce or even remember the Latin names.

3. Plants should be durable, and come back year after year. Perhaps I’m spoiled living in Florida, but I only want plants that don’t die on me. They can die back in a frost, sure, but that sucker better have shoots coming back that following spring (that following week, ideally.) I have little patience for many annuals. A major accomplishment of mine this year was that I did my homework and all of the plants I planted in the butterfly garden came back. In my area, plants not only need to be cold hardy, they should be heat and draught tolerant too. This is where paying attention to commercial landscapes is helpful. If a plant thrives near a god-awful hot highway, chances are it will do okay in my yard.

4. Gardening is about sharing. Make cuttings and give them away. Share plants and information. Teach a future generation. Communicate with others about gardening online. This is a command to myself – I don’t do nearly enough of any of it.

5. Disregard any and all gardening rules, including the ones I make up myself. Sometimes, this is the most important rule of all.

What gardening rules, tenets, or principles do you live by?

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