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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Achieving Happiness in Your Garden: The First Secret

One fall day, when the sky was quite blue and half the leaves were still on the trees and half were on the ground, I went out to the garden with rake in hand. I wasn’t planning to do a lot of raking, but merely wanted an excuse to be out in the garden on a beautiful day.

As I poked around at the leaves, raking up little piles here and there, my rake suddenly got caught on something. At first I thought it was a tree root, but when I got down on my knees for a closer look, I could see that it was the corner of a metal box of some kind. “What could this be”, I thought, as I laid the rake down to mark the spot before running to the garage for a shovel.

Within a few minutes, I had dug up the box and gingerly opened it, thankful that the lock and hinges hadn’t rusted close. Inside was a single sheet of paper on which someone had written “The First Secret to Achieving Happiness in Your Garden”.

I took off my gardening gloves, and gently unfolded the paper to reveal…

The first secret to achieving happiness in your garden is to grow the plants you love.

Grow the plants you love.

Grow the plants you love - exactly!

If you want to be happy in your garden, you should fill it with the plants you love. It was so eloquently stated in those five words. “Grow the plants you love.” When we plant what we love in our gardens, we will love the plants in our garden. We will want to be out in the garden, enjoying those plants in all seasons, watching them grow, flower, and set seed. We will be on our way to achieving happiness in our gardens.

Oh, it seemed so simple! Perhaps deceptively simple, for I realized then that not everyone has plants they love in their garden.

Sometimes we inherit our gardens from someone else and find that the plants they loved are not the ones we love. May I suggest if that is what you have in your garden, plants loved by a previous gardener but not by you, that you dig them up and pass them along to someone else who will love them? If the plants can’t be safely transplanted, dig them up and remove them anyway.

Sometimes we fall in love at first sight with a new plant, but then once it is in our garden, we realize that we misjudged it. It isn’t what we thought it would be and we really don’t love it at all. I recommend you dig those plants up, too, and either compost them or pass them along, if you want to achieve happiness in your garden.

Sometimes we think that we have too many of one or more of the genus of plant we really love, like roses or daylilies or even agaves, so we stop ourselves from getting more of them, even though we love them. “Frosted Pumpkins”, I say! If you love a particular genus of plants that much, by all means, grow a lot of them in your garden.

And sometimes we see a plant at the local garden center that we fall in love with, but for some reason, we talk ourselves out of buying it. We convince ourselves that we can have a garden without it. We walk away from it. Don’t do that! Buy that plant and plant it in your garden. Otherwise, you will think constantly about that plant you didn’t get, and it will cause you to not be happy with the plants you do have.

Grow the plants you love. What a simple, straight forward secret.

After I had finished reading the first secret to achieving happiness in your garden and thought a bit about whether I was growing the plants I loved, I made a little note on the piece of paper – “this secret discovered by Carol, May Dreams Gardens”, then dated it and placed it back in the box. After gently closing the lid, I laid the box back in the hole I’d dug it out of and carefully buried it again. Someday, I thought, another gardener will come along on a beautiful fall day with rake in hand, and perhaps they will discover the little metal box that contains the first secret to achieving happiness in your garden

Grow the plants you love.

And with the first secret revealed, I knew that my walk down this garden path toward achieving happiness in my garden had just begun. I knew that somewhere there were more secrets to be discovered, and that somehow, I would discover them.

Grow the plants you love.

21 comments:

Garden Lily said...

I'd have to agree, that there can never be too much of a good thing. I have a habit of keeping lists of the plants I am "hoping" for, and have been blessed to receive many of them through plants trades. Recently I've ordered many of my remaining wishlist plants online (plants or seeds). I can't wait to get them settled into the garden.

susie said...

I have to agree & you have firmly cemented my desire to tear out a bed that I do not like & replant ASAP!

Darla said...

The first secret is such a simple one...why have I made it so complicated? Because others' are growing this plant or that plant? I must write this down in the garden journal that you so gently insisted I start, and I'm glad I did. I even bought a real spiral notebook.

Cyndy said...

Big big secret! It is so hard to uproot that plant you have hated for years - but so liberating. Just yank it out!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think I am welll on the way to achieveing this first challenge. I love the plants I grow. I also think you should not feel guilty about falling out of love regarding plants. If they don't perform welll or you have a change of heart. Take them out and plant something else.

Rose said...

What an incredible blossom. I am not at all familiar with this plant, but it sounds like one I would like to get to know better.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

A simple secret but a good one. I started a prickly pear cactus from a pad and it grew into a monster. I hated it. I don't like cactus. But we Austinites are always being encouraged to grow drought-resistant, heat tolerant plants.

I grew up in the desert southwest and when I moved to Texas I fell in love with the trees and grasses...all the things that didn't remind me of the desert from which I was escaping.

I've already torn out much of the cactus and your post gives me the courage to get rid of the whole unpleasant thing.

Greensparrow said...

Reminds me of the happy, happy day when I ripped out the great hideous magenta azalea and replaced it with a lovely bottlebrush buckeye! It made me so happy I had to stop and give the little buckeye a kiss every day when I came home for weeks!

Teresa O said...

Those five words say it all. After reading about gardening trends, I began to think what an old-fashioned gardener I am, but now I realize, I'd just rather grow the plants I love. What a lovely post.

Amy said...

Enjoyed your post. It makes perfect sense to plant what you love. I have planted things that I thought I would love and end up pulling them out...wondering why did I keep that so long when there can be something really pretty in that spot? -Amy

Nell Jean said...

Clever post. On the other hand, I must grow the plants that love my garden. I love the peonies and lilacs of my childhood. They don't thrive here. Not that I don't love the hydrangeas, camellias, azaleas and lycoris that grow abundantly here, I love them too.

Rose said...

(Prairierose--so please don't delete my comment, garden fairies!) I'm glad to know I'm on my way to happiness, Carol. I started everything here from scratch, so all my plants are ones that I loved--at least initially. Now there are some underperformers and some that are out of place, but I can't think of anything I grow that I don't love. Well, there is that poison ivy...

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I can't imagine growing plants that I hate. Well, I can, but I can't imagine keeping them. I've given away all my Tradescantia because I hated that their flowers melted by noon. I've composted or given away all the orange & rust bicolor flowered Daylilies that some previous owner had planted. Out, out! The garden is too small to waste valuable space on unloved plants.

Melanie said...

Grow the plants you love, It could be a metaphor for life, do what you love. Life is too short and precious not too. Great post BTW.

HappyMouffetard said...

So true - why waste valuable space on something you have no feelings for? Plant something you adore.

Kathy said...

I think Nell Jean is on to something. Grow the plants you love that can be happy where you live.

Mary Delle said...

The first secret is indeed quite true. Wise post.

Shady Gardener said...

Grow the plants you love. Great advice. I doubt that I would consciously do anything else. I have unknowing planted things I've had to later remove (and "inherited" things that didn't last long). ;-) We learn alot through those experiences, though. Gardening... a wonderful "growing experience!" lol.

Helen said...

Wise words, Carol. Thanks for letting them out of the box and sharing them.

Kimberly said...

What a fantastically wonderful post!!!!

Büyü Yapmak said...

Grow the plants you love. Great advice. I doubt that I would consciously do anything else. I have unknowing planted things I've had to later remove (and "inherited" things that didn't last long). ;-) We learn alot through those experiences, though. Gardening... a wonderful "growing experience!" lol.