|Carex 'Evergold' along a newly transplanted bed of moss|
Even though it's how most people really garden, taking baby steps can be incredibly frustrating when, after poring over the picture-perfection of the gardens on Pinterest and magazines all winter long, you realize that the days are too short; the dollars too few.
|At least my container-grown sedums and other succulents don't ask for much.|
Looking back to the house and its own set of hurdles, I've actually had days where I've given up on the garden entirely and said "why bother?" There are things inside to organize, mop, clean and throw away; trim to paint, cracks to caulk, money to earn, bills to pay, dinners to cook and dinners to clean up after. With so many real tasks demanding my time each day, how can I possibly justify the time and money that I put into gardening?
Other gardeners can be as challenging as root-bound soil sometimes too. Some days it seems that everyone is so quick to pounce with questions like "Why isn't that a native plant?" "You are using heirlooms, right?" "Why haven't you replaced your grass with a sustainable groundcover yet?" "Did you make sure to tell your readers to only buy organic?" "I sure hope you didn't buy that from a big-box store."
Everyone wants to save the world, and I respect that. I prefer to buy local, organic, heirloom, native, non-GMO whenever possible too, but I do it for my own reasons and would never condemn someone else for their own choices. As far as I'm concerned, any garden is better than none at all. There are no black-and-white/right-or-wrong answers when it comes to gardening, but some answers might just lead to a healthier plant or garden than others.
|My front yard vegetable garden|
Invasives are out of the question for me, but I refuse to feel guilty about planting non-native elephant ears (Alocasia species, anyways) or hybridized bromeliads in my garden because they support thriving communities of tree-frogs in their leaf axils and provide drinking water for the other wildlife. Besides. They make me happy.
|Trad's Garden Center's demo garden.|
But I'm not perfect. If I can find a perfectly good plant there for 75% off on the clearance rack (which, by the way is mostly filled with plants that are already dead), then I'm game. I buy from local independent garden centers because I want great plants and a friendly experience; but I don't do it out of any moral obligation.
There are lots of hot-button issues in the garden world, and so many people to insist upon their way of doing things as the only way. But I'm not gardening for them, and neither are you.- We're gardening for ourselves. You've bravely decided to guide the miracle of life with your own two human and fallible hands so that you can reap the wisdom and benefits that it might offer. Bravo. The truth of the matter is that you really will figure it out on your own regardless of the statistics, studies and ideologies that others will throw at you. I did. When I first started gardening, I dug up an aquatic elephant ear (Colocasia aquatica) from a ditch to plant in my mom's garden because I couldn't afford to buy plants at the time, and watched it invade the adjacent woods in a matter of weeks. By that point I had heard all about invasive plants, but it was that experience alone that formed my opinion. They suck.
Mistakes, challenges, smiles, struggles and maybe the possibility of paradise; those are the reasons we garden. I started a garden one day with an inkling of perfection in my mind and spent subsequent years trying to recreate my idea of heaven on earth, and needless to say, my idea of a perfect garden has changed. Some especially beloved plants have died, but I had the pleasure of watching many others grow and mature.
|Parachute mushrooms (Marasmius spp.) that I found in my compost.|
I can't really plan every element of my garden right from the start, but who says that's a bad thing? What fun is a solved Rubix cube or a finished puzzle when there's nothing left to do? The private gardens I love the most are those in which it appears that the gardener was in such a hurry to get plants in the ground that her lawn is an afterthought - along with the weeds sprouting up along one of the many treasured plantings. That, to me, is the same kind of passion that leads artists to create and dancers to dance without once glancing to see who's watching from the periphery. I hope to be that kind of gardener, and I also hope to be that kind of person.
|I left a sheet of plexiglass on the patio and the dewdrops turned to glitter in the sun.|
|Moss from my garden, glimmering in the sunlight.|