Gardeners spend hours pouring over seed and nursery catalogues, looking at books, thinking about colours, bloom times, soil conditions. They might even consider plant succession through the seasons, foliage shapes and textures, winter interest.
One thing they often don’t consider: the gardener.
When I first stuck my spade into the soil in this garden, I was 35 years old. There’s a big difference between the life and times of a 35-year-old and a 57-year-old gardener. Energy. Optimism. Experience.
Not to suggest I had more of them all back then. I trained for my first marathon at age 50. That eats up a lot of time. Our three kids were younger then, too. In fact, one of them hadn’t been conceived yet. I learned that kids don’t always need less attention as they reach their teens…
All this is to say that the gardener, his or her life, how much of it can be devoted to the garden, and doing what; how the garden and gardener can best cohabit: all these things too often get forgotten.
I suspect that many garden failures, amongst which I include what is or isn’t happening in my own front yard, come about because someone has bitten off more than they can chew. They’ve fallen in love with the abstract, forgetting that what they’ve dreamt will ask something real.
Weeding a garden is like walking a dog. Adding mulch and compost is like feeding or grooming. They must be done. If you don’t want to do them, you must find alternatives.
The thing that we gardeners need to know best is ourselves. What do we want from our garden, and what are we prepared to do to get it? Self analysis is as important as soil analysis. Why do we often leave it as an afterthought?
As small as it is, my garden is too complex and demanding for the busy life I have. That’s my personal epiphany. Now, what am I to do about it? That’s my challenge, should I choose to accept it.