No Fear Gardening

By George Graine, Fairfax Master Gardener
“The very statement that there is but one way of making a garden is its own refutation.”
William Robinson in “The Garden Beautiful” (1907)

Ground Rules book coverIf you have seen gorgeous gardens you may have wondered how this was achieved because it looks so intimidating. To get over this concern, perhaps a first step is to visit the indoor section of a full-service garden center. You may find this is beyond a Craftsman© tool paradise, so keep calm and do not panic. Why so many shovels, other digging tools, cutting things and more? Across the aisle you may see bags and bags of whatever and to further complicate your mind, an apothecary filled with lots and lots of chemicals for the garden. Good grief — where does one start and how deep is my pocket? Why does gardening have to be so complicated? Not true, because help is on the way including an inspirational nudge that notes two gardening books discussed below. Take a deep breath because gardening does not have to be an all-of-the-time-consuming hobby and the cost will not ruin your credit rating. You will be able to discriminate between need-to-have and nice-to-have garden whatevers. And back at the garden center, help is readily available for both the novice and experienced gardener. Furthermore, your neighbor’s experience will often prove to be invaluable.

No doubt you have read garden tips in horticultural magazines such as “Horticulture” or “Garden Gate.” Even popular home-type magazines like “Southern Living” and “Better Homes and Gardens” offer timely tips for gardeners. Now take these tips to a different level beyond the Farmer’s Almanac daily calendar and these other sources. Already noted, gardening does not have to be complicated especially if you check out a new book “Ground Rules: 100 Easy Lessons for Growing a More Glorious Garden” by Kate Frey (Timber Press, 2018). Here you will read bite-size chunks of sensible advice on many important lessons for gardening including inspiring color photos that illustrate the point being made. This will help you to yield a healthy, gorgeous and thriving garden. Her book covers what you need to know in an orderly manner as noted below. It is written in easy to follow tips that she calls “lessons” including seven sections that start with how to become your own designer and end with the joy of what you created. This is accomplished with single page explanations that provide sensible advice. The parenthesis next to each section indicates the number of lessons.

  • Design — Planning Your Paradise (12)
  • Planting Advice — The Joy of Plants (17)
  • Soil: The Real Dirt (14)
  • Water — Be Wise With Water (9)
  • Garden Parent — How to Be a Good Parent (22)
  • Attract Wildlife — Birds, Bees and Butterflies (15)
  • Emotion and Plant Community — A Garden of Earthly Delights (11)

The book index is helpful for finding a subject regardless of the section noted above.

Book coverA second garden tips book, “The Problem with My Garden: Simple Solutions for Outdoor Spaces” by Kendra Wilson (Laurence King Publishing, 2017), likewise takes the fear out of gardening. She notes 66 problems that start with “I don’t know where to begin.” This text does not have a table of contents and it appears to be written in a random manner. Nevertheless, this book’s index is especially helpful in order to find answers for many garden problems. Similar to the Frey book, the color photos enhance the written word for each problem using single page “chapters.” Each solution to a specific problem offers easy-to-understand definitive, sensible and at times inspirational advice to a myriad of primarily uncomplicated garden problems. It is an interesting read and at the same time an excellent learning experience that can be applied to your own property. In other words, Wilson provides you with a thoughtful and no-fear approach to gardening without a lot of intimidating and off-putting technical jargon. Her book is written in a non-technical way that simplifies time-consuming or complicated ways to garden by providing succinct solutions. That said, simple ideas can solve what appear to be complex dilemmas.In summary, both of these books are welcome resources because they provide savvy solutions, insightful advice and for good measure, inspiration. Many gardens are different, but surprisingly the solution for these garden problems is usually the same. This goes back to the fact that gardening does not have to be difficult or complicated and therefore, do not fear gardening.