Garden Deeper (Not Wider)


One of the things I have learned over the years, is that I will never master ALL the possibilities. There will always be even commonly-grown plants, that I know little about and have no experience growing.

When I first moved to Maplehurst and began to garden on acres, rather than square feet as I had in Florida, or a few containers, as I had in Chicago, I behaved as if it was my job to learn about every garden plant I had ever heard about. I planted a little bit of everything and was always studying those encyclopedic gardening books that attempt to describe every perennial or every tree and shrub.

But over time, I stopped my ceaseless searching for the next new thing, and I began to focus on bringing more of those plants into my garden that already seemed to be doing well.

Instead, of researching every new possibility for my flower garden, I divided my nepeta and spread it around. By that point, I knew that I loved how little care it needed, how well it covered the ground, how it bloomed in an explosion of purple in early summer, but kept sending up new flowers into fall even as the leaves drooped and took on a silvery sheen. It isn’t the plant for every garden, nor is it for every gardener (I have heard that many gardeners abhor its tendency to spread and crowd out other plants), but it is the plant for me.

Easy to grow and shrugs off heat and humidity? Yes, please!

I recently came across this advice from an experienced gardener: learn how to grow twenty plants really well.

In other words, focus and learn everything you can about a limited number of garden plants, then build your garden with that deep, rather than wide, knowledge.

And I realized: rather than growing lazy, as I had feared, I had been instinctively reaching for that deeper knowledge. And my garden is better for it.



Posted on

April 6, 2020

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