3.28.2016

Sibling Assignment #179: Gardening: A Lesson in Patience

I gave the sibling assignment this week:

"As spring lurks somewhere around the corner, it is time to think about gardening. Each of us have had different experiences with gardening at different locations. What we have all learned is there is a huge learning curve when it comes to gardening. What lessons have you learned from gardening? Share about a particular plant, gardening as a whole, or whatever you want." You can find brother Bill's post here. I will link sister Carol's when it is completed.

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace." May Sarton

When I first began to garden I wanted instant gratification. I was an impatient garden. It was only fitting I planted big, bright annuals around the outside of the house, filled pots with more colorful flowers, and shoved way too many flowers in each bed I planted. What I did at my first house was probably really not gardening. It was more curb appeal. It all looked pretty, but then the flowers died in the fall and I started all over again the next spring. What I did learn was how to pick out healthy annuals, what color combinations worked, and how expensive it all was.

I had more of a plan at my second house, but then that impatient gardener, instant gratification need crept in also. I had more area to garden. I needed to do much more to amend the soil, What I did do different with my second house was read and research. I attended a class on home landscaping, I studied plants native to my area, I explored perennials vs. annuals because I planted and tended to the flowers more and Everett did the vegetable gardening. In the nineteen years I lived there I learned from trial and error. I killed lots of plants. I learned how to grow roses, I learned how to propagate and winter over plants, but I still didn't slow down and exercise patience. It was often hard for me to appreciate what we had created, because I thought I needed more in a spot, or another burst of color, or some interesting foliage. I still wanted every inch of the flower beds blooming. I didn't want to wait for plants to mature. The trees and shrubs overtook each other because we didn't space them like we should have. 

I did walk away from that gardening experience with much knowledge. Whether it was dividing flowers, starting then from seed, or buying them at the nursery I learned species that were successful, ways to create pots of containers that worked, and how important location was. We learned that maple trees were a beautiful addition to any yard. The most important lesson I learned was to focus on four seasons of interest and color while gardening. This was the part I liked best. If a shrub is going to bloom in the spring, what would it look like in summer? Did it have colorful branches to brighten up a gray time in winter? If you are investing in plants for the long haul, you want them to provide more than one season of beauty.

I am now retired and planning gardens in another home. I was forced into patience last summer because the house wasn't ours yet so I couldn't jump into my frenzied pace of planting flowers, plus it was later in the summer, it was very hot, the smoke from wildfires was bad, and we were exhausted from moving. We did  bring lots of containers with us that helped add color for the remainder of the summer.

I slowed down. I walked around with paper and pencil and took notes, I tried to visualize what I wanted my garden beds to look like. I read and researched again. I saved money by shopping fall sales. I thought about specific color schemes. We planted bulbs in October so we would have color greeting us in the spring.

As the snow still falls and the days are cold and gloomy, we are ready to move forward. New vegetable beds are being prepared, some plants were wintered over, and I have plans for what to add for annual color when the time comes to plant. I will continue to practice patience as best I can.

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