Failure to Plan, Or…..

Where I live, it’s winter (as is obvious by the photos I have been posting lately.) So many of the magazines and even some of the blog posts I read are all about things that gardeners should be doing in the winter.

Since not all gardeners are in the same place at the same time, this is always helpful. I saw a great tweet the other day about things that new gardeners should be doing. If you have been gardening for any length of time, it’s easy to forget that you weren’t born with everything you now know about gardening.

And while it’s easy to say that one of the best ways to learn is by failure, in gardening, that’s not always an easy or inexpensive way to learn, particularly if you are practicing by planting trees, for example.

So I was going to post about how I never do a garden plan and how I find that it’s just easier for me to “intuit” where to put a plant.

Then I started to think back to when I moved to (or “married” as I like to say) my house and garden over 20 years ago now.

Prior to this particular place, I was always moving. So while I was extremely practiced in some types of gardens–annuals, vegetables and houseplants–in other words, either things that either lived either only one season, or things that were portable that I could take with me when I moved–I knew nothing much about the more “permanent” types of plants: perennials, trees and shrubs.

Yes, I knew about them in theory. But I had never actually grown them in the ground. And there’s a huge difference.

And speaking of huge, I married a rather large piece of land–just about an acre. So I suddenly had to ramp up to speed rather quickly.

There was this overgrown “thing” in the middle of the yard that had some “stuff” in it. I couldn’t even determine what the “stuff” was.  The Spoiler hired someone to weed it. Then there was still “stuff” in it. I later decided they were some herbs–mint (so you can tell why I could barely tell weeds from plants), sage and comfrey.

It took me years to get the mint out. The sage was easier. The comfrey stayed although it has since died out because there is too much shade now.

Then I had to decide what to put back. And believe it or not, that garden is still not “settled” because of the shifting patterns of light and shade. The only thing that is settled is the hardscaping that I put in–a birdbath in the center and 4 stepping stone paths leading to it that divides the garden in four.

So the lesson to take away from this is that while I did have a very rigid perennial scheme set up for this garden, absolutely none of it remains. Trees have grown up around the garden and other trees that were there have fallen and given sun where there was none before, creating different opportunities.

Was there a failure to plan? Absolutely not. But had I stuck to my rigid scheme, everything would be dead. Sometimes nature has different ideas than the gardener is the lesson here, I think.

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