Here’s mine: I believe with every fiber of my being that I hate gardening. In the warm weather months, I dread it with a passion. But then when the season absolutely obligates me to don the garden booties and latex gloves (no comment), I find myself on bended knee professing my undying love to the back-breaking, shoulder-numbing but sensually beautiful and Zen-like peacefulness that is gardening.
One of the reasons we bought our home (besides the virtual steal of a price and its proximity to our daughters’ schools) was for its larger than average garden and its stunning 400-year-old copper beach.
But when we celebrated the prospect of our new large garden, it was because we imagined days spent lounging in its splendour, maybe reading, maybe hosting intimate gatherings over rosé and antipasto. We didn’t picture hours spent mowing, edging, trimming, and seeding (Phil’s jobs), or composting and mulching 6 cubic yards of shit (actual shit, mind you, and btw, our shared job), or weeding, deadheading, planting and transplanting, and pest and pestilence surveying (my jobs). You see, there is no lounging with book or libation without plenty of—it sounds so benign, doesn’t it?––gardening.
But here’s the gist. I grumble and groan, I procrastinate (like, really a lot), I even whine, and then eventually I get to it. In the fourteen years I’ve gardened here and the five years I gardened at our other home (which is where I cut my teeth), I’ve never missed a season. And, if you want to do the math, yes, that 19 years with at least seven major gardening “events” throughout each season (by that I mean things like spring cleanup and prep, summer weeding sessions (I’m not a “weed once a week” type), fall bulb-planting and bed cleanup, etc), it works out to a minimum total of 133 times in my life where I have worked myself into a froth of foreboding only to find myself in a lovely, wonderful meditative trance as I prune and weed, dig and shovel, pat and tweak. It seems that no matter how many times I think I loathe it, I discover and rediscover how much I actually love it. Oh! and it loves me back.
My garden is lush and green and happy. Unlike my attempts at indoor gardening—which invariably ends with rotting leaves, dying stems, and non-existent flowers––outdoor gardening fairly swoons at my attentions.My garden doesn’t care that I have spent more hours begrudging it than appreciating it. It just grows along with or without me, and then radiates beauty and peace and acceptance when I finally show up to pay my respects.
Deb: Barb has the most beautiful garden. She designed it like a pro and it looks lush and wonderful. I know Barb very very well so I was shocked when I read this. To look at her garden you would never know she didn’t adore gardening.
I am afraid that I will do little to make this post interesting by giving a different point of view. I too hate it. Or at least I hate the big jobs. The spring/fall cleanup and mulch, the backbreaking planting. But what I do love is the maintenance, and I have found the key that works for me. I simply don’t make it an event like “oh I have to find a day this week to weed and deadhead.” Instead, I come out in the garden almost every day, even for fifteen minutes and I do these things in a leisurely manner. Wow, has it made a difference in my gardening life. I find that this way, it is never daunting.
In fact, it is a philosophy I try to adapt to everything in my life. To borrow a concept from one of my fave authors, Anne Lamott, I just try to take it “Bird by Bird”. I don’t let it get too big and then I can’t be overwhelmed by it. I am just an amateur gardener, but each year I learn more and I glory in my successes and take my failures on the chin. I take photos of everything so I can review what worked and what didn’t, and I borrow ideas from my friends’ gardens. My indoor gardening has come a long way too. I stopped being afraid of killing plants and started just giving them a little lovin’. They used to have a Wanted poster of me in plant stores. I was a leafy serial killer. But I continue to grow with my garden and, as a result, it cuts me some slack. Now if I could just get the dogs to stop peeing on my impatiens.