By Bonnie Jo Manion
Just as everyone’s garden is different, everyone also has his or her garden philosophy. That doesn’t mean we can’t share some of the wisdom we’ve collected over the years.
The first lesson is easy: Take time to experience your garden. Relax. Stop and smell the roses. It’s good for you. And it’s good for the garden because the more you appreciate your garden, the more attention you pay to its appearance.
Another thing I’d stress: There is always a solution. It could be as simple as switching out a finicky plant when you have a tough-as-nails stalwart to put in that problem area. Or it could be getting creative when it comes to hiding an eyesore. This stone toad atop a flowerpot looks right at home—and no one knows it’s hiding irrigation equipment.
Here’s a simple idea: Grow plants that are easy to maintain. California natives are great examples. One I like is Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri). It requires little water and needs to be pruned to soil level once a year after blooming. Yet it has wonderful, dramatic “fried-egg” flowers and it spreads by itself. Most Peruvian lilies (Alstroemeria) are perennials from tuberous roots. Peruvian lilies come up year after year and provide long-lasting blooms. They also make gorgeous bouquets.
I also encourage you to experiment in your garden. Don’t be afraid to try new methods, new plants, and new directions. If something struggles, cut your losses. Give yourself a time limit, such as two seasons, and remove plants if they are unhappy.
Share plants, cuttings, and the fruits of your labor with family and friends. Some of my favorite plants have been cuttings or divisions from friends. It means more to share your garden with those you cherish.
If you grow what you love, you embrace and appreciate your garden that much more. Bring your garden into your home with fresh colorful bouquets. Grow edibles you love, not ones you think you should grow. Tomatoes are a priority for me, and I always look forward to my tomato harvest in August.
Above all, “dream big” in your garden. Don’t be afraid to fail. You just might exceed your wildest dreams. I had an idea to plant a vineyard in our backyard. It took a few years of research, and many people doubted whether it would work. But I persevered, and now I have a thriving vineyard that not only produces great grapes but also great joy.
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