being a better gardener

I sure would like to be a better gardener, because I'm really not so hot at it.  I'm not feeling fatalistic or ruling it out completely, but in this phase of life I'm not sure I've got everything it takes be really good at it. I've known this about myself for a while. Regardless, there is never a spring that starts to sprout that I don't itch to put plants in the ground.  Most years I happily let the spring fever hit me, traipse to the garden center, and make plant selections.  I like perennial things, the feeling that the work I put in will give a return again and again.  But then I come across seasonal vegetables and flowers that seem like they are just the addition a southern summer garden needs to be complete.  Before I know it, there's a shopping cart full of a jovial mixture of annuals and perennials about to be rung up, purchased, and brought home.

This year I tried to be smart and plan ahead, not wanting to waste money or time on plants I wasn't going to give due diligence.  I thought about the plants I usually lean toward buying, about which ones I buy because I really love growing them and which ones I purchase just because everybody else is growing them and I think I should, too. I even made myself a jot list.  What I've known about myself for a long time is that I love to grow herbs - all kinds of them - and historically I'm quite good at it.  So after really thinking about, brainstorming, reading, asking myself the right questions, I pretty much made up my mind that for the 2013 growing season, herbs would be my focus.

Then I went to the garden center.
Where there was a sale.
Right out front.
And it's like I forgot everything I had decided before I got there.

I brought home some herbs for sure, like rosemary, dill, mint, bee balm, basil, stevia, and pineapple sage. But I also bought tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, figs, and beans.  I was immediately overwhelmed when I got home by what I had bought.  I had a small place prepared for planting, but nothing near enough for all that I had bought, and even less of a clue about the best way to plant some of these things.  I did some scrambling around, did some digging, and got everything planted.  It all looked so good and healthy for awhile.  Until it started to die off.

There are plenty of factors that caused the death march to stomp across my garden.  We had unbelievable amounts of rain this year and everything just seemed to get waterlogged, so there's that.  But I also planted far beyond what I could cultivate well.  In the beginning when I put things in the dirt it all felt so fresh and full of promise.  I trained vines to climb vertically and checked for pests diligently in the beginning.  But then things began to grow at different rates and with different requirements, and I just lost track.  Truth be told, I also started getting really good cucumbers and squash and tomatoes from other gardeners with bumper crops (who clearly knew better what they were doing), all too happy to share their surplus with us, and it just kind of made me feel blase' about my own withering garden.  Everything died; just flat-out died.

Except my herbs.

The herbs are not only alive, but are this very minute flowering in the most audacious way.  We were sitting on the back porch the other evening and something zoomed past our heads.  I realized a hummingbird - which I'd been entirely unsuccessful at luring with sugar water this year - had flown past us to drink from the pineapple sage. Those plants are glorious.  My camera doesn't even know how to register the oh-so-vivid red of its flowers

When I look at those herbs I remember they are the only thing I thought I should plant this year. And it feels like a lesson to me.

 . . . They remind me that there is a wisdom and a voice inside of me that is worth listening to.  I may not have all the foresight to know the details of the ins and outs or the whys, but the voice still speaks.  I should listen and weigh out what it says.

. . . They remind me that I have a sense of what I know I can grow well, and that I should grow it.

. . . They remind me that just because it's in someone else's garden does not mean it belongs in mine.

. . . They remind me that some of the things I would like and might even wish to grow in my garden might just, in fact, grow better and aplenty in someone else's garden.  And so very often, people want to share those things, which makes not only my joy complete but there's as well in the sharing.

. . . They remind me that planting the right things will draw life authentically and eliminate the need for the artificial.

So a lesson learned - lessons still being learned - on my road to better gardening.

photo credits: Brilliant Beauty 2013


  1. Anonymous10:53:00 PM

    Good thoughts and great photos by Brilliant Beauty. Love you all.


  2. Anonymous7:40:00 AM



  3. Anonymous11:37:00 AM

    SO proud of your writing my dear. It is heartfelt, lovely and often humorous- just like you. ;)
    Keep planting that "good grass" Love you~ A


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