How have your thoughts on gardening

alicia7b(z7b/8aNC)January 25, 2008

changed over the years? I fell in love with bearded iris after seeing them in my grandfather's garden. Then with natives after seeing the display gardens at the NC Botanical Garden. Then with natives some more after seeing the wildflowers in PA (acres and acres of Blue-Eyed Mary, just for starters), and the wildflowers on our own property. Not that I have an all-native garden, by any means, however. I love bearded iris and the non-native roses too much to ever be without those. I learned which plants will tolerate flooding (the longest we've had is 3 days) and which will not (the majority of plants will, I'd say 75%). Most of all to accept the losses and to keep a fairly large propagation program going to expand and fill in any gaps. I'm back and forth about weeding. The green grass that grows all winter and which the rabbits will not touch -- I usually end up yanking it but sometimes I wonder if it's worth it. I tried to have a big perennial border, but found it needed structure for winter interest, and so have added shrubs such as Buddleia and tea roses. I couldn't find anything native for full sun that wasn't too dense or wouldn't get too big. I think structure is the most important aspect of a garden, that and concentrated areas of interest at different times of the year.

What has surprised me most about gardening is how fast things change year to year -- I think I expected more permanence. Sometimes I feel as though I am re-creating part of the garden every year, even though that isn't true. It's all about finding the right spots for plants and that always seems to involve some trial and error. Now the garden has undergone a major shift with the house being moved. I am enjoying having a place to garden out of the floodplain and the gardens around the house have come together much more quickly than they did when the house was in its original location.

What have you learned from your experiences and how have your thoughts on gardening changed over the years?

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rosebush(z7 NC)

I love the beaarded irises too - they were one of the first things I planted when I moved to NC. Someone was giving them away, the old variety that smells like grape bubblegum. Mmm! Still my favorite, after all the varieties I've collected so far.
Gardening in NC is totally different than my many years in FL, where fall is like spring here. I have learned SO much in a short time thanks to GW and friends I've met through these forums.
Over the years I have adopted more of a "go with the flow" attitude, where before I was more driven. There have been successes and failures; the drought last year was rough, but I know in time I can recoup. And with winter-sowing, I can have an endless supply of seedlings to offer hope for the following spring/summer.
My garden offers a respite from the hectic work week, and provides hope of new life each spring, no matter what the prior year held, every time I sow a seed.
It is teaching me a new kind of patience waiting for the blueberry yearlings to mature and bear fruit, planting seeds that will take years to flower, and looking forward to the day I will be living out there on the property.
It is also a place of creativity, cooperating with God and the natural order of things, the cycles and rhythms of life.
Seems I can plan all I want to, but the garden itself changes and adapts as it will. My part seems to be to direct what I can and accept the rest for what it is. The weeds will always be there, the killing frosts will come, but the flowers will eventually bloom and we will always have spring.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:29AM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

The biggest change with my gardening vision came out of necessity. Originally, my "ideal" garden was sort of a flashy cottage style, full of big vivid blooms. Since my yard is heavily wooded and even the small sunny area out front gets 6 hours tops, I had to give that idea up. At first I resented my lack of sun, but now I really enjoy shade gardening. I love the subtlety of some of the plants that flourish in part-sun and have taken much more interest in foliage whereas it was once all about the blooms. Of course, I still squeeze in big showy blooms wherever I can.

The other thing is that I enjoy my backyard gardening more than the front because it's shady and secluded. Originally I thought I would enjoy the front for showing off.

Another change for me has been going from instant gratification of buying plants to greater enjoyment of propagating myself. It is more about the process than the final result for me now. And of course, propagating allows for more swapping!

My other changes have basically come from learning more. One of the illusions that I had about gardening was that it was more about planning and planting. The reality is that I do an awful lot of weeding.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:38AM
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I've learned that I'm not afraid to move things and change things if I find out that it's not working out. Planting something doesn't mean it there's for good (until it's too big to move, of course).

I've learned that I'd rather spend some time to research something and figure out how to get it then to bop on down to Home Depot and get something because it's there. The journey is worth it and almost every plant has a story.

And I don't care so much what other people think of my yard as long as it works for me (not that it's going to be messy or ugly or anything). But maybe that just came with the age!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 1:41PM
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I think the biggest thing I've taken away from all my years of playing with plants is that "change" is a good thing. You don't have complete control over any of this. The weather plays a bigger roll than the gardener.

Now, with the down time caused by the drought and the winter I am shifting my ideas once again. I'm giving up on an intense garden and aiming for one that is less hard work for me. Sacrificing flashiness for more utilitarian ideas. Using lots of landscape fabric as a weed barrier has really cut down on the weeding and poison ivy eradication so I plan on expanding its use which will dull the view (having all the bushes in a row for example). But for the most part I am the only person out there looking at it.

Propagating from my plant collection is a joy beyond my wildest dreams. It can take a while for a small cutting to reach mature size (something that would've bothered me in the past) but nowadays I don't seem to care. Don't get too impressed, my success rate is low and the rows of small potted plants is kinda scraggley but they came from my efforts and I spend all my time fussing over them.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 1:51PM
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Seems I can plan all I want to, but the garden itself changes and adapts as it will. My part seems to be to direct what I can and accept the rest for what it is. The weeds will always be there, the killing frosts will come, but the flowers will eventually bloom and we will always have spring.

That is so true. I gave up on specific drawn plans years ago. I think it makes sense to draw up plans for woody plants and hardscape, but everything else is free form.

I agree too with Ais, that the process is more important than the final result. I used to get impatient and frustrated with the garden -- when will it look even halfway finished? -- but now I just try to enjoy the garden as it is, and now, five years later, parts do look more finished and mature. The time scale of gardening can be frustrating to deal with if you want instant results (and who doesn't?). I love the propagation side of gardening too, especially since at first I got from more pain and empty pockets than instant gratification from buying plants.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 3:02PM
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I have changed from "Does it look ok?" to "suits me." I especially love my native areas, and I walk the property every day I am home just to check out what is happening...and it is always changing. Some things live, some die, some flourish, some hang on, and then there are the surprises, such as finding trillium seedlings, pink lady slippers, and plants that I never bought or dug..the seeds were just in the soil and decided to germinate. I have a fairly large Arisaema sikokianum that just appeared one year. So for me gardening is a series of miracles in which I have only a small hand.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 3:20PM
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Esh ga, I move things around all of the time. Used to drive DH crazy, which is a mystery because I didn't even ask him to dig the holes. He had this idea that once a plant was in a spot it was sacrilege to move it, even if it wasn't doing well.

I agree that one might as well become friends with change because it's going to happen regardless.

I would love to find trillium or pink lady's slipper here, but alas, it's not the right habitat. My parents have pink lady's slippers growing in their yard and I can never get used to how large the flowers are.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 5:31PM
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transplanted2scin07(7b upstate SC)

I think the most important lesson I have learned is that my gardens will never, ever be finished. I have to accept the fact that I am not capable of "letting be". I move some plants so many times it's a wonder they survive to bloom at all.
I have also learned that gardeners, in general, are some of the most generous people I know. Sharing plants is a way of life, perhaps because we are so proud of what we have to share.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 4:35PM
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A garden is definitely never finished. For a couple of years I had a large patch of Carolina bog mint, wild ageratum, and Atamasco lilies by a garden path. The bog mint and ageratum looked very nice together all summer, and I was very happy to have garden interest without height in that particular location. (I am often plagued by the perennial problem of ending up with tall plants in the front of a border.) Looks like the drought did in most, if not all, of the Carolina bog mint, leaving a patch of weedy grass. Time to add new plants!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 9:08AM
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As a newbie, I haven't had enough seasons to really change my thoughts on gardening. But gardening has changed a lot of my thoughts on life in general:
* Time is now measured in seasons
* Gardeners are the most generous people on the planet
* Even as a newbie, other gardeners WANT the plants I take for granted - that was a huge surprise for me
* Gardens don't "just happen" - like anything else, they take a bit of work, patience, practice, luck & love!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 4:12PM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

Magick, the best gardens LOOK like they "just happen" LOL. but us gardeners know the truth...

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 10:57AM
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susandonb(NC 7)

My thoughts on roses have changed. I planted about 12-15 over the past 4 years. I have no success with them. The Japanese Beetles, usually kill them and no matter what I use I cannot get rid of them.

So, I am not as fond of roses as I use to be.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 5:07PM
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Susan, what kind of roses did you plant?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 8:48AM
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