It’s a little bit chilly this evening, but with a jacket, a hat, and some gloves, it’s pleasant enough to sit on the porch and enjoy the crispness in the air.
These crisp fall days are numbered. Rain is expected to arrive later tonight and temperatures will be dropping steadily through the weekend. We’ll probably have a killing frost by Monday morning here at May Dreams Gardens.
Then it’s officially over for this season.
What then? What do we do after we’ve cleaned up the garden?
We start thinking about and tending our imaginary gardens, of course.
Imaginary gardens? Oh, yes, there are eight people who took the recent garden blogging survey who said that their favorite kind of gardening is “imaginary”.
If that’s the only kind of gardening they do, that’s a little worrisome. But if it’s just one of many types of gardening they do, then they are in good company, because don’t we all tend an imaginary garden, based on the kind of garden we hope to have someday?
For example, I have an herb garden I’d like to have someday that's just imaginary right now.
It’s a wonderful garden full of interesting herbs, brick-lined paths, and just enough sunlight for the herbs to grow, under the dappled shade of nearby trees. The trees are mostly fruit trees, but there is never any rotten fruit on the ground. You can just reach up anytime, grab a perfect piece of fruit off a perfect tree and eat it right there in the garden. There’s also a bench or two tucked in here and there that invite you to sit a spell and take in the scents and watch the bees amongst the flowers.
And I imagine what my current garden would be like if it was weed free and had a bit more shade in general, preferably dabbled shade. While I’m imagining it, I need more roses and lots of Delphiniums, too.
There are some clear differences in tending an imaginary garden versus a real garden. For example, with imaginary gardens, you miss out on some of the good things about real gardening, like getting dirty and sweaty, using gardening tools like pruners and hoes, occasionally getting stung, and ending the day exhausted.
But it’s nice to sometimes sit up on the porch and tend your imaginary garden, too.
How do you tend an imaginary garden? I don’t know how you tend your imaginary garden, but here’s what I do.
Read gardening magazines. I mostly buy gardening magazines for the pictures. I know the gardens are staged and full of impractical suggestions, and some include plants that wouldn’t grow in my climate, but they are still good sources of ideas for my imaginary garden, and my real garden, too.
Read gardening books. I like gardening books written by gardeners like Henry Mitchell and Elizabeth Lawrence, especially, but I don’t limit myself in any way, it seems, when it comes to buying gardening books.
Look at every garden you pass by and note what attracts you to it or what repels you and makes you want to run the other way, as the case may be. Well, you don’t have to look at literally every garden, but you’ll notice most of them anyway, because you’re a gardener. Believe me, non-gardeners don’t seem to notice gardens and plants like gardeners do. I’ve asked them if they do, and they don’t.
Read gardening blogs. Of course! There are lots of good gardening blogs with lots of good ideas for your own garden, imaginary or not!
Read seed and plant catalogs. You can find out about all kinds of new and interesting plants by reading through catalogs from good seed companies and nurseries.
Think about other things. Yes, sometimes you should think about something other than gardening, if you can, and let the imaginary garden go. Give the gardening half of your brain a rest. Before you know it, though, you’ll end up thinking of something new for your imaginary garden, maybe your real garden, too.
I'm very much in favor of allowing yourself the time to tend your imaginary garden, but don’t forget to tend the real one, too. Because believe me, you can hide the weeds in your imaginary garden; you can’t hide them in your real garden.
Here are the rest of the survey results for the question “My favorite kind of gardening is”…
57% - Flowers
6% - Indoor plants (What? Oh, wait, I did say “favorite”…)
31% - Vegetables
8% - Imaginary
25% - Landscapes
15% - Other
The most common comments for “Other” included herbs and native plants, but two respondents wrote in “vignettes’.
(The reason the survey results don't add up to 100% is because people were allowed to pick more than one favorite kind of gardening, because it's hard to choose sometimes, isn’t it?)
Goodness, I’ve done all the talking tonight and just went on and on! I’ll let you talk now. What does your favorite imaginary garden look like?