To a certain extent, I think my love of gardening originated in a love of digging. Gardening
is an excuse for me to get my hands in the soil.
Pictured here is my first formal garden, circa 1962. I remember clearly selecting and planting
the crepe myrtle sapling. I think it had purple flowers, which would naturally have been a great
attraction (I still veer toward purples and blues in the garden). Along side is a potted zinnia,
grown from seed, and an even smaller pot with an Ajuga reptans (another blue flower).
I regret to confess that I was also mean to plants occasionally, stripping the leaves off Boston ferns or picking
camellia buds to peel them laboriously like an onion. There was some indescribable fascination with
exploring what was inside the unborn blossom.
It was a modest start. In 1970 things exploded, fueled from a discovery via the Whole
Earth Catalog that seed and plant catalogs could be ordered for free. I ordered about forty and was
inundated with horticultural information. In addition to regular seeds, I started experimenting
with plants shipped through the mail, including bare-root roses from Tillotson's in Mill Valley,
the legendary nursery that helped popularize the resurgence of old garden roses in modern gardens.
Since 1975 I've been a renter without land of my own, which led to a number of modular
container gardens (and in some cases "legacy" plants...my pink-flowering strawberries are descendants
of the ones I first planted in 1980). My current landlord is somewhat forgiving of my encroachment on their
territory. In 2002 I claimed some ground that was formerly lawn and planted antique roses. Every few years
I extend back a little further. Learning to propagate my own heirloom roses provided me with
more stock to include in the landscape.
Some landscaping decisions have been out of my control, such as
a Brazilian Sky Flower that was supposed to be the shrub form but was actually a fifteen foot tall
tree when it got up to speed. It inspired me to create a fern garden under its dappled shade. Sometimes
it seems as if the garden is making decisions, not me!
Want to explore gardening?
If you're already an ardent gardener, or if you want to become one, you may enjoy some
of the resources listed in the links at right.
If you're new to the hobby, just plunge right in and start with something simple. Evaluate your
space and climate and decide what's works for you. Ornamental or practical or both, a garden doesn't need to be
complex. Remember: it takes real work to kill a plant. Don't work too hard.
Links for the rosarian
Gardening and gardens
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