I get a lot of requests from various people who want to visit and see my garden and borders. As much as I would like to have them, most of the time it just doesn’t work for me because there is so much to do with making a living and everything else that has to be done.
But I often think maybe that’s for the best, because perhaps what they expect to see would be a lot different than what they would see.
Gardens at Their Best
Most pictures of gardens you see in magazines and on the internet are picture perfect and taken at the peak of bloom. After all — they want to show things at their best. (I like mine shown at its best too — but try to show you the worst as well.)
People visit public gardens — for example the Rodale Institute Organic Garden in Pennsylvania or Ginter Gardens in Virginia and see beautifully manicured gardens that are kept perfect by a staff of workers all year long. It’s a wonderful sight to behold, giving folks lots of ideas on how they can better improve and change their own garden.
One Disadvantage for a few
The only disadvantage I can see is that people come to expect immaculate gardens from everyone who is noted for their gardens — even if the person is someone like me who does the work themselves and does not have a staff (or the time) to keep it perfectly manicured as the ones at the Rodale Institute or Ginter Gardens or other gardens open to the public.
The First Reason for the Garden
I did a lot of thinking when I was outside yesterday about how my garden looks, why it looks that way, and how it would be (or is) perceived by others.
The purpose and the reasoning behind my gardens accounts for how they will look at any particular time. First and foremost, the garden provides good food for us.
And that means:
I only have so much time to spend on garden duties. Regular readers know that I try to spend at least two hours a day outside. In hot weather it’s usually an hour in the morning and an hour late in the evening. All of that time (except 10 minutes for pulling weeds if necessary) is spent on harvesting during the months of June and July. Even in August, September and October – harvesting takes at least 1/2 to 1 hour. So there’s not much— if any — time to spend on manicuring anything. (— And you’ll recall — we have almost an acre of garden and borders.)
In spite of that, my borders stay pretty nice because I took weeds out when they were first created 14 years ago and I have them mulched. I visit each spot at least twice a year and sometime 4 times a year to do a little care giving and adjusting.
Looking Through the Eyes of Others
When I walked around yesterday to assess the overall condition and look of the garden, I tried to do it through the eyes of someone who is use to seeing gardens like those of Rodale and Ginter.
WOW! I saw every brown leaf, all the horrible looking mildewed dead foliage of perennials that have bloomed out, every bug hole, every bare spot where I’m making changes, and I even found a spot where the wire grass crawled in that I hadn’t noticed before.
And looking through the eyes of this “other” person, I was horrified at the fig bush whose leaves have turned brown and the drought-stressed raspberries that look to the unknowing eye — as if they could never have been lush, beautiful and full of fruit.
So I guess I wouldn’t pass the test for all those folks who are use to seeing perfectly manicured gardens.
Looking Through My Eyes
Looking through their eyes was rather discouraging, so I went back to looking at the borders and garden through my eyes. I found it BEAUTIFUL beyond words.
I lived the first half of my life without a garden. It was always in my heart (I get it from my Grandmother), but I never had the space to garden. I’ve gardened all of the second half of my life —-beginning out of necessity with a food garden. But the borders and flowers have come from a need and love deep inside of me.
The Second Purpose of my Garden and Borders
That brings me to the second purpose of my garden and borders: I need them to nourish my spirit. I can honestly say that my garden and borders are so much a part of me and I have such an emotional need for them — that if I didn’t have them I would wither and die.
I wanted to show you what I saw through my eyes yesterday. So Bill stopped what he was doing long enough to take the pictures I wanted. I am so grateful to him for making it possible to share with you. Hopefully, the pictures will encourage and inspire you in your own gardens.
I wish you beautiful and bountiful gardens and borders always — at least through your eyes.
Organic Gardening is easy, efficient, effective — and it’s a lot healthier.
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