Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Ready-Made vs. the Easy-does-It Gardener

I have a friend who early every Spring (sometimes too early – a sin we all commit from time to time) visits one of the Big Box stores in the area, hauls way an SUV full of large, blooming plants, puts them in containers around her deck, or gets someone to plant them in her landscape, and she is done for the year. She is a Ready-Made Gardener.

By contrast, I am an Easy-does-It Gardener, by which I mean that I start with the smallest plants I can find, not yet in bloom (this can result in some surprises a few weeks later!), or take tiny cuttings – inadvertent ones sometimes, when I break something off a plant and don’t want to throw the tiny thing away – and watch to see them grow, week after week. Or die. Yes, that happens also. More often than not, though, the little things manage to survive, begin to thrive and provide months or years of joy. A case in point is Sedum Autumn Joy. I found three pathetic, half-dead orphans on a hidden shelf at a nursery a few years ago and now have seven large, gorgeous plants in my garden – and have given away at least half a dozen more.

It does not matter if you are a Ready-Made or an Easy-does-It Gardener; what matters is that you enjoy working in your garden and the results of your work. Here’s a picture of the chocolate Hollyhock that has just started on bloom on the South side of my house. A biennial, this plant is one of six announcing their presence this year, four years after I put the first seeds in the soil. Go figure!

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