The Seasons of a Gardener
Over the course of the summer, gardens change. Likewise, during the span of our gardening careers, what piques our interest is constantly evolving. Where are you on your horticultural journey?
Entry level for gardeners is usually with annuals. They are easy to find at discount stores, home centers and even some grocery stores – places we already shop. Annuals are inexpensive, very colorful and not only provide instant gratification, but also summer-long blooms. Most vegetables are annuals, and some gardeners get their start by growing their own food.
The next stage is perennials. They are larger, and the fact that they return year after year is appealing. By now, we are paying more attention by reading and talking about plants. Along the way, we learn the names of some of the more common perennials and decide to give them a try.
Enter phase three – falling in love with a particular genus of perennials. Before we realize it, we have become a “collector.” Do you recognize any of these? Hosta hoarders, daylily divas, fern fanciers and those who find irises irresistible, or become passionate about peonies.
Looking around our yards, we discover everything is at the same height, and we enter the fourth stage – shrubs and small flowering trees. Woody plants with four seasons of interest are the new must-haves to give our landscapes more visual interest. Occasionally, the collecting phase and the woody plant phase morph into the miniature conifer stage. They are just so cute, and the range of foliage colors and textures is so alluring that it’s easy to understand their popularity.
Finally, we are now very experienced gardeners, and it is time to enter the fifth stage by harkening back to phase one (annuals) and two (perennials) – with a twist. The twist is being a specific color and texture plan that has something blooming from last frost to first frost. Out come all the reds and yellows, because they clash with the blues, violets and pinks. The big-leafed plants get moved to the edge of our property, where they demand less visual attention. Perhaps we put in a moon garden with white-only blooms and silver-leafed plants.
A few other garden-related stages might be happening on the side as we progress through the plant phases. There is the yard-art phase, cycling-through-various-mulches phase and the soil knowledge leading to composting phase.
Whatever stage you are in, enjoy it to the max while learning all you can about soils, plants and how they grow.