Sunday, June 25, 2006

Basic Gardening Theory

1. Most importantly, be mindful that the health of your soil is the health of your plants. You can not just ignore your soil, and then periodically sprinkle "Miracle Whatever," and expect healthy plants. Just as you can not ignore proper nutrition and think that vitamines will make up the difference. Look at your soil as much as your plants, make sure it has lots of good organic matter added, is kept free of noxious chemicals and salts, and is protected by a proper mulch in hot weather.

2. Referencing above, be aware that a true gardener gets just as excited by healthy soil, teeming with life, and smooth and crumbly with happy earthworms, as he or she does by the flowers growing out of it. Maybe even more so, because the soil is like an empty canvas, full of possibilities and hope.

3. Natural lines undulate and curve. Look around you--trees grow in circles when unhindered, the rivers and streams find gravity in a meandering course, the waves hit the sand in rounded archs and leave uneven strokes. Look at life begining, the curve of the pregnant belly and the fullness of the mothers breasts. A garden that celebrates nature will not have its inhabitants lined up like soldiers in formation, and every flower accounted for and in its humanly decreed placement. Allowing many plants to sow themselves with seeds and roots, and to weave in and out of their places often results in a beauty that the gardener could not have forseen, as the flowers find their chosen companions.

4. Everything has a cycle or rythym. Ebb/flow, advance/receed, wax/wane, sleep/awake. Allow your garden likewise. Do not let it be forced into the "all year garden" paradigm (I suspect that is pretty much just a marketing ploy for nurseries who would like a longer selling season anyway). I tend to plan for a short time in the summer to be so beautiful that it makes my heart hurt, a huge explosion, the ground gone orgasmic, if I may be so bold. And I "bookend" this time, generally around July in my climate, with slightly lessor times of beauty. The rest of the time she is a scraggly girl indeed, sleeping with her green hairs gone wild and brown and frozen and blown over. But I honor and cherish that time, because I know that its when the groundwork is lain for next years climax.

5. Share your garden, the beauty and bounty, with every hurting soul sent your way. And you will know those who are "sent" by their kindness and respect. It gives a good loving energy to what you are creating, and while it can't be quantified or documented, I do believe that it adds to the harvest.

6. When all else fails, and in case you find yourself getting terribly pedantic and serious with all these high garden ideals, find a good pillar rose for a prominant spot in the closest bed to the street. Make sure that it is especially lovely, such that passer-byes will ask about it. And when they do, and then when they ask just what exactly is a "pillar rose," look them in the eye and say "that means she is good in a bed, but even better up against the wall." If they run the other way, they were not worthy of your time. If they don't get it, maybe they will later. But if they laugh so hard their belly shakes, you will know you have found a new friend.


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