Garden from your heart

When it comes to gardening, it’s best to play to one’s passions.

When it comes to gardening

When it comes to gardening

I’ve come to a realization this summer: I love growing plants. Elementary, I know.

But I mean, really growing plants, one after another, all the year round, from seed to harvest. I may be a farmer at heart.

My perennial borders – once a fun challenge to create, to adjust, to balance – are now established and despite the weekly or monthly shifts in colour and character, they feel fixed, and I dare say, full up.

Annuals change the tableau and while I tuck them in the way a chef might add a little garnish to a dish, the meat of the borders remain, year in, year out.

My green thumb twitches for more.

This personal conundrum made me think about how each of us is drawn to certain tasks in the garden; how I might love to sow, but not stake; how transplanting makes me feel like a good parent, and pruning, despite all evidence to the contrary, like a petulant one.

Flower arranging consumes hours of my attention, while lawn care I entirely neglect.

When it comes to gardening, I’m learning that it’s best to play to one’s passions.

Case in point I have a friend who can’t be happy with his garden if something isn’t crushingly, beautifully, in bloom.

He’s a rhododendron, dahlia and lily man of course, but he knows his weaknesses and therefore also his strength; he grows big flowers well.

Despite his wife’s complaints, he doesn’t see the beauty of the small or the elegance of green. In his garden, alpines and grasses need not apply.

Who are you in the garden?

It’s hot out, so I’m going to make this easy. Grab a piece of paper, strike a line down it, and write on either side: yea or nay.

Then sit back in the glory of a summer evening, pour yourself a cool beverage, and list all the garden tasks you love and all the tasks you loathe.

List verbs and try using the the present participle to better feel yourself watering, raking, pruning, sowing, composting, weeding, and so on.

Easy work making lists, but they are important, given how they can influence a garden’s design.

As I walk the streets of Oak Bay, I can’t help but think many gardens are attempts to live up to an idea, rather than an outdoor space designed to fit with a homeowner’s skills or interests.

Take bark mulch.

Clearly a sign of someone who doesn’t like weeding, but the problem of weeds would be sooner solved by dense planting.

If you’re bored watering, xeriscape.

If you love composting, grow vegetables.

The most successful gardens fit with the spirit of the gardener, not solely matching plants to a site.

I have a friend who likes to rake moss.

Happy with a tight focus, she has found contentment with a Japanese-style garden, where she uses rocks, pavers and bamboo to good effect.

It’s a peaceful place, shady, with few flowers, and it has taken her years to get there.

Thankfully in life, what you nurture eventually wins out.

 

Christin Geall teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Victoria and is an avid Oak Bay gardener.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A collage of damaged areas in need of repair in Oak Bay municipal hall, including carpet hazards, missing wall pieces and interior water damage. (District of Oak Bay images)
Oak Bay awards contract for municipal hall renovation

$470,000 will go towards cracked walls, ripped flooring

The Sooke School District raised more than $18,000 for the Goldstream and Sooke food banks from the funds of 10,000 Tonight in December 2020. The funds go two- to 2.5-times further due to the buying power of the food banks. (Black Press Media file photo)
SD62 high school students raise more than $18,000 for food banks

Edward Milne in Sooke rakes in $11,000 alone

There are many options for enjoying a meal out locally during Dine Around and Stay in Town, on now through Feb. 7. (10 Acres Commons)
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria carries added importance during pandemic

Special menu items for eat in or takeout/delivery, staycation deals available through Feb. 7

Central Saanich installed a temporary portable along Lochside Trail near Michell’s Farm Market and remains in discussion with the Capital Regional District about finding what Mayor Ryan Windsor called a ‘permanent solution’ to ensuring washroom access at the popular location. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Central Saanich in talks with CRD about ‘permanent’ washroom facility near Lochside Trail

The municipality installed a temporary portable washroom near Michell’s Farm Market last week

(Black Press Media file photo)
Bylaw officers called to Saanich park for COVID-19 protocol violations on pickleball court

Raquet sport players reminded to avoid doubles play amid pandemic

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Most Read