Phases of gardening

alicia7b(z7b/8aNC)March 18, 2008

I have often wondered if there are phases of gardening, or just different gardening personalities. I have always greatly admired the classic Charleston-type garden of the sisters' garden on Gimghoul Road in Chapel Hill and wondered if they were ever infected with the malady of wanting every plant on earth, lol. Of course having that kind of garden would be impossible on my place anyway, the deer would just eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The sisters even have tulips every year and how they have managed that is a mystery to me too. :)

Does the mad urge to collect everything ever wane? I don't mind it at all, I think it's still possible to have a coherent garden plan and a flowing garden with a lot of different kinds of plants. In fact it's a lot of the fun in gardening. My grandfather would have been a good person to ask -- he always did a lot of swapping with gardening friends -- but he's no longer here. He wasn't much of a talker anyway, lol.

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In terms of gardens and NOT purchased landscapes, I think all gardens evolve from the experimental stage to suit the personality of the gardener(s). As with any advertised goods, certain plants will be en vogue some years and out others, so that gardens too will be subject to the popular opinion. I know pepople who hate petunias, but cannot resist the pink pots of wave petunias. I find it ammusing that it is evident which gardeners shop with the Big Box stores exclusivly, because they each have gardens with very similar plantings. For example, if Sears were still selling "Arts and Craft" style houses from their catalog, one could expect to see stella-de-oro daylilies by the mailbox, Candytuft in the springtime, phlox spilling into the ditch, fire-power nandinas in front of the porch, and a red maple at the side of the driveway. In short, whatever their local Big Box is required to sell every year. (Please don't be offended if these plants are in your front yard, I too have my fair share of stellas and nandina ;)
I'll add that phases are subject to new releases from hybridisers. Today an East Coast phase can begin with the introduction of a new hydrangea, i.e. "Pinky Winky". (Again, I have 4 so don't think I'm dissing your plant picks.) It'll be interesting to see our neighbors gardens in 25 years when the cute little loropetelum shrubs they planted 2ft apart are 15ft high and wide. We'll just have to smile and wave when we see the homeowners outside every Saturday morning trying to wrest the overlarge limbs from the roof eaves.
I wonder what the next phase of their garden will be?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 11:44AM
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I do believe there are certain progressional steps in the gardening hobby. It seems different people get to the same point from different angles but the route shares a lot of similarities. Many people get the bug when they first own property; a place that needs their personal touch or needs some sort of rescue. They then progress to a completely mad shopping machine where they have to have every plant listed in the catalogs (there may be a few steps in between). They then take up propagating plants on their own and everything changes. I'm not sure what the next phase is - I haven't got there yet.

There is something to it and I'm not sure how to put it into words (imagine, ME at a loss for words!!). There's a bit of arts & crafts project to gardening, a bit of working with and admiring of nature, and a lot of nuturing and care giving on top of all that. There are people out there that do not garden (gasp) they just don't have it in them. Not only do they not do it, but they don't admire it when other people do it. We need to elliminate these people from the population NOW. just kidding.

Some people enjoy knowing all the scientific names or all the intricate techniques for managing a certain type of plant - where other people are just as thrilled to stick a bean in a dixie cup. It truly takes all kinds. Gardening can range from one African Violet on an apartment windowsill to a multi-acre vegetable plot, and from people that invest their entire life into it or people that can "get to it when they have time".

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:54PM
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You mean those people who want to run over everything with a lawn mower or spray everything that isn't grass with Roundup? Yep, I've met a few of those.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 2:43PM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

One kind of progression I've observed is in the type of plant people are willing to spend their money and sweat on: annual - perennial (flower) - perennial (foliage) - shrub - tree - grasses (as opposed to grass) - spikey/spiny things (aka 'architectural') - plants with naturally brown leaves that look dead in the wrong lighting. It can take years to go through the different phases, although there's an abrupt leap from perennial to shrubs and trees after you realize how much longer it's going to take them to grow. There are, of course, variations. I have one friend that as a gardening novice went straight to spikey/spiny ... very unusual in my experience.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 3:00PM
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I remember being given a small spot in the yard
in which I could plant anything I wanted.I was
twelve and ran as fast as I could to the store to buy
seeds.Digging that plot and preparing it for my seeds
zinnia,marigolds,petunia,tomatoe's and peppers
strawflowers and snapdragons.It was early April
in Baltimore and I carefully planted each seed by
hand,watered them in and waited and waited and
well you get the picture.Then sprouts the seeds had
started to sprout and then the April weather,
frost, I ran out that night with my blanket to cover the
tiny little plants,lesson one when to plant in your zone.
The garden grew and for me was the most beautiful of all.
The gardening bug had me and had me good I continued to
garden each year asking for more space.
As I grew so did my thirst for plants and every plant
I wanted.I'd see a plant and had to have it and over the
years I did collect plants then off to college.
Opened a nursery so I could feed my addiction and
now I still plant and seek out plants,so yes there are
phases to gardening.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 4:05PM
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I hope I never get to those last 2 phases.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 4:56PM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

Karen- that's a really good point. I think i may be one of those exceptions, since i started with a dracaena and cactuses! Which, granted aren't garden plants. I've always had a thing for spiky, funky colored unusual things, though- 'spose it's the art background. I think i followed the basic progression with some walks on the wild side, so to speak. :)

I first noticed and played with plants as a small kid, but didn't grow anything consciously except helping mom pick and plant ageratums til i was a teen and that was mostly houseplants other than a few of the things i moved to the light from the back of the old homestead in the woods. Tried some outdoor things with little luck (annuals!). Dad had us help in the veggie garden some, but i didn't like doing that and don't really count it because i wouldn't have if i'd had the choice. I really got into outdoor plants in our first apartment where i had balcony boxes with annuals, herbs and perennials. When we bought this place i started right up with beds- yanking out and moving the foundation shrubs within a very short time. From that point on, we've been adding beds at a rate of about 1 a year til now. We started in on shrubs and trees pretty quick since i knew i wanted fruiting things and they take time.

I think I was a lot more manic there for a few years than i am now- just absolutely obsessed with it. Started seeds like a madwoman, ordered lots of stuff, got starts from my mentor. Each year i spent more. I guess i've mellowed a little now since i'm running out of space (well, till we get going on the back), and certainly spend less with the swaps. Now i'm pickier and look for things that really strike me, rather than trying everything, and i'm more apt to buy 1 expensive hard to find good sized thing than 5 cheap little ones. Not that i don't love a bargain! I've migrated away from so many houseplants to more tropicals that i overwinter now, too- though i still have plenty. Also have migrated towards more natives through the years. My basic taste in what i like and don't have stayed fairly consistent, though i think it's matured. For example, I remember when i was awed at seeing scads of azaleas, and now it seems over the top to me. I guess i like a more mixed, natural and varied palette now- not expecting anything but a show garden to be all 'on' at one given point. I still enjoy the show gardens- just don't expect or want one like that of my own. Thinking on it, I guess i kind of get to do that with the fair plot now. I go into that with a very different mindset than gardening at home.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 5:14PM
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