From Where I Sit – Garden Delight

Are you part of Canada’s fastest growing pastime? Are you a gardener? If not, why not?

The scope and variety of garden gizmos, gadgets, decorations and plant material has never been greater. The dollars spent are staggering. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve noticed that individually and collectively, gardeners are characters.

Gardeners have their own ‘look’. It may be one of serenity and calm because they really do take time to smell the roses. Or it’s one of frustration and exhaustion as they wage battle with this year’s drought. Or the unrelenting wind. Or particularly stubborn weeds. I’m waiting for someone to declare chickweed the latest, greatest groundcover. Then, and only then, would mine vanish without a trace.

Gardeners usually dress funny. Only on HGTV can gardeners crouch in off-white pants in flowerbeds while running their manicured hands through the soil. In real life, shabby old work clothes are the order of the day. Beat up shoes, an old straw hat and grungy gloves round out the look.

Oh and of course there’s the “my back is killing me” stance and “I was kneeling too long” stagger as we straighten up from our work. Overdoing it seems to come with our short growing season and the urgency with which these projects are tackled.

Gardeners speak their own language. Terms like low-maintenance, espalier, shade-tolerant, cultivar, and secateurs don’t need explaining among the garden crowd. Rattling off Latin botanical names is no big deal. Gardeners talk about structure — as in gazebos, pergolas, arbors, and water features.

Gardeners talk gravely about frost damage and the ones they’ve “lost.” They talk about transplants and the “ones who didn’t make it.” They understand it’s war out there fighting pests and diseases. They know that in the garden as in life, neglect can destroy.

Gardeners are trend-watchers. The latest rage is the creation of distinct garden rooms that address the need for quiet, reflective areas; an entertainment or party area; and the functionality of a herb and vegetable area. Tone on tone color schemes are supposed to be pretty hot right now. Texture is the new buzzword. Poring over gardening books and magazines sometimes causes garden envy. Soaking up the inspiration and imagery of the gardening shows is therapeutic. Going nuts in the garden centres and nurseries is commonplace.

Gardeners are also mavericks and free thinkers. Most choose to set their own particular style based on their hardiness zone, particular site, taste and budget. Luckily rust and rustic is in. So is recycling. I’ve got a gravel crusher screen as a trellis. In another bed I set out both Roy’s and Greg’s first tricycles. Old steel wagon wheels and the grill from an ’55 Minneapolis tractor are focal points as well.

Gardening is not for the faint of heart, particularly this year. It can be dirty, back-breaking, sometimes disheartening work. Most of the time it’s therapeutic, nurturing, invigorating, healthy, calming soul work. At least from where I sit.

*Reprinted with permission