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What I’ve Learned About My Gardening Style

I recently had an ‘aha moment’ about my gardening style and decided I need to work on my patience and organization. I figure by sharing some of the mistakes I’ve been making, others can hold me accountable and maybe learn a little in the process.

Here’s a list of my more common gardening mistakes, followed by the plan I’ll follow to become a better gardener.

  • If I love a plant, I buy it. This is only a problem when I don’t have anywhere to plant my new treasure and end up putting it in the first open spot that’s big enough. In most cases I end up moving the plant at a later date.
  • I don’t plan before I plant. I do this mostly because I need to get it in the ground quick before it dries out. As a result, I get clashing bloom colors, taller plants in front of smaller plants or plants getting too large for the space. Again, I end up moving the plant at a later date.
  • Instead buying three or more of the same plant, I buy one. I’ve noticed lately that I have a lot of single plants scattered throughout the garden instead of plant groupings. This makes for a messy look in the garden. I really love the way plant groupings look — clean and uniform.
  • I get plants from other gardeners or plant sales. In other words, I have a lot of random nameless free plants. This is okay until it’s time to get more of the same plant or someone asks me the plant name.

Being a Better Gardener Will Take Patience & Organization

To start, I’ll do a little reorganizing and create a garden plan. This includes flagging plants NOW that need a new home in either my garden or a friend’s garden. Since I’ll do most of the moving in the fall, I have plenty of time to evaluate the new location to make sure it’s best.

I will document all plants in my garden and create tags with plant name, size, bloom time and color. This new labeling approach should help me from planting orange poppies next to pink peonies again. And by having the plant details I can purchase more of the same plants I’ve grown to love.

In the future, when purchasing new plants, I will carefully evaluate what I need and where it will live in the garden. If a plant will look fabulous as a grouping, I will sacrifice getting other random plants and purchase multiples of the same plant instead.

I’m glad I finally realize what I’m doing wrong. The chaos of blooms, colors and random plant heights finally pushed me over the edge this summer. Now, it’s your turn to hold me accountable.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kari Lønning #

    You and your garden will sort yourselves out little by little. Either you can think and study and plan to the point where you don't plant anything and the whole thing becomes a chore, or you can pay attention and gradually you get tired moving the plants around (we all do this though) and a balance arises where an overall scheme begins to evolve. Most gardeners go through stages of collecting everything they love, then editing and rearranging, then developing the "bones." The biggest thing is to enjoy what you're doing and allow yourself to learn as you go.


    July 27, 2009
  2. cityslipper (home kitchen garden) #

    Are you having fun? I'd put that at the top of my gardening list. Of course, I'd follow "having fun" closely with "Will I enjoy eating it later?" Somehow, I don't think my #2 would be your #2… but I can see that your garden's character has become a distraction. I hope you'll capture the cacophony for us and share your progress as you bring your garden more in line with how you're thinking.


    July 27, 2009
  3. Angela #

    Kari/Daniel, Thank you for your encouraging words and wisdom.

    I do love gardening and still have a lot of fun picking out plants and planting them. I just don't like how messy the garden is getting. I'm out of control and so is the garden.

    I really just need to slow down and think before I buy /plant.


    July 27, 2009
  4. Anonymous #

    I have the same problems–our front yard look hideous–no cohesion or order. I'm ashamed to have you see it this weekend. That'll be our project next year.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom!


    July 28, 2009
  5. Angela #

    Michelle – don't be silly. Your two baby girls keep you busy & you just painted your house! Your garden looks good enough. If I was a good friend I'd be helping you more. That's what makes gardens so great, they'll always be there next year.


    July 28, 2009
  6. Anonymous #

    I love orange next to pink! Therefore I will not be the person to discipline you ;P



    July 29, 2009
  7. Jessi #

    It sounds like you are describing me! Let us know how your efforts go. I could use some inspiration to get my garden in better shape.


    July 30, 2009
  8. Good for you. I’m guilty of the same sins, but I call it ecclectic / creative and try to love it (although the mess does frustrate me). My biggest issue is the pots of plants I don’t know what to do with (like the umbrella pond plant I have but no pond) and the garden art that just doesn’t seem to fit. But the one thing that works for me with is designing with edibles. I plant lots of food plants in my flower beds and if I don’t like them, I eat them!


    December 15, 2009

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