Stages in Gardening

by Carmen Varcoe-(total plant-a-holic) - December 1999

If you are one of those well organized and disciplined rhodophiles, you may wish to skip the following, as it only applies to those plant nuts out there who can't resist yet another treasure for their already full-to-the-brim gardens.

As I walked around the garden the other day, I thought about the stages of gardening one seems to go through. Firstly, you buy anything and everything your eye catches and then you go home and find out where to plant it. Usually, I've picked some Mediterranean Zone 9 plant that needs well-drained soil and 24 hrs. of sunshine. With your plants piled in a wheelbarrow you frantically wheel around the garden like a big chicken or turkey with its head cut off trying to find spaces for all your purchases.

Stage 2 is when you begin to read more and make endless lists of the plants you must have. Shortly afterwards you start to dream about all the glorious borders you'll create. Your appetite for more exotic plants extends now into ordering from farther afield than local nurseries and garden clubs. Your budget is becoming seriously in jeopardy.

Stage 3: One now tries to group the plants one's acquired and you spend endless hours digging up and relocating all your mistakes. This is especially wonderful when you are moving rhodos as you know they can be moved easily, so long as you have a backhoe for the larger ones. At this point, nightmares may begin to set in or midnight questions crop up like "Where the hell is that plant?...I know it's in my garden somewhere!"

Stage 4: You are now given to fits of much hand-wrenching and fretting over all the half hardy plants you've planted. This usually occurs when in the dead of winter a cold snap with rain has been forecast.

Stage 5: Spring finally arrives and you go out and survey all your losses. With hopeless optimism, you order millions of seeds, sow them and after potting them on, find out they're pretty average plants, not at all what the catalogue said!!

Stage 6: You become more fatalistic about your treasures: if they don't make it just pop in another one! At this stage you have come full circle: you are walking around filling in the gaps left by all your mistakes with seed grown plants and the newly acquired up-to-date variegated whatever. You are scratching your head figuring out where to put them all. And on and on it goes just like a hamster wheel, but isn't it fun? Thank goodness for all those upcoming plant sales!!