Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Perfectionist Gardening

Hobbies - there's tons. But exactly what is it with beginning gardeners that seems to make them think they have to have the perfect garden right off the bat?

Beginner knitters don't go for a fair isle sweater pattern, they try scarves.

Starter crocheters don't grab beadspread directions first, they try hats or potholders.

People who have never picked up a scrap of fabric before don't go gungho on starting with a wedding gown.

Beginner quilters don't try for a Baltimore album, they go for bears paw, nine patch or split rail.

So why do beginner gardeners think they have to have something yesterday that would rival the nearest public or botanical garden?

Gardening is a long slow learning process. Emphesis on long here. Honestly, I think it's part of what holds my fascination with gardening. I can only go so far with the sewing, knitting, quilting (yes, there are usually some little tricks or tips for the repertoire) - but there's always something to learn as you go with gardening.

That's exactly what flips my skirt, floats by boat, suits my fancy. Learning. I get to absorb something new every day.

And I make mistakes. 40 years of gardening and I still make lots of them. But, like knitting or sewing, you rip, tear, unweave and begin again.

Beginning gardening is no different than beginning any other hobby. You don't put together a 6 foot model of a DC-10 when you start fiddleing with airplane models. Unless, of course, you're only there for the fumes.

Maybe that's why I dislike all these 2 day garden programs. What happens when those hosts walk away? Are they conveying anything about how much water or other care these plants are going to need before the poor victims see thier backsides slide into a rig and wave buh-bye?

Maybe it's all the garden porn available. Come on - everyone drools over the porn! Look at the catalogs oozing with fabulous velvety leaves, plump blooms, glossy foliage, achingly sensuous colors splashed across the pages. Modesty be damned! And that a government agency actually delivers this luscious porn straight to your mailbox, without even a blush of embarrassment, is a total plus. Say it - you know you want it. You want it all.

Everyone wants it in their yard. Rows of alluring color. Fanciful silver foliage. Tempting, glowing softness dancing appealingly in warm summer breezes, tickled slightly with dabs of sunlight through rich, full, powerful trees.

And it used to drive me nuts that everyone else's garden looked so much better than mine. This is where I get to blame you bloggers. What IS wrong with you people, smattering porn all willy-nilly across the net and making the rest of us feel so totally inadequate? For shame!

I remember watching a garden show a while ago that had the most perfect garden. Or so I thought. Rows of grand flowers bending their blooms in the warm sun, fabulous color and design aspects, a different but electric feel in every part of that sucker. Until they got to the courtyard with a paver floor, all space between gloriously rich and full with baby tears. And then the host bent over and plucked a weed from the center of that green, lush, perfect garden. I felt so vindicated! Even perfect gardens have weeds! Even perfect gardeners aren't so perfect after all. Ah-ha!

Sorry people, but that 'perfect' garden that you drool over? You're not going to have it yesterday. Hell, you probably won't even have it in five years. I'm quite sure it only exists in our own gardening-warped minds. Relax, take a breath, stare at the porn and plan about what you will someday have. Don't feel overwhelmed, just start with that first patch of bare earth and a plant you love.

Gardening starts with that first spark of excitement. It expands, but it never ends!

And, by the way, there's no such thing as a perfect garden.


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