Garden Bloggers' Muse - Be A Confident Gardener

"It takes a while to grasp that not all failures are self-imposed, the result of ignorance, carelessness or inexperience. It takes a while to grasp that a garden isn't a testing ground for character and to stop asking, what did I do wrong? Maybe nothing." ~Eleanor Perényi, Green Thoughts, 1981

If I could give any advice to a new gardener, it would be to garden confidently.

Be deliberate in digging a planting hole, pretending that you know exactly what you are doing. Don't be timid in the garden. Don't hesitate to try new plants, to dig new flower beds, to trim an errant branch.

After awhile, you will discover that you personally are only a small part of the success of the garden. Plants will grow and flower and set seed without you hovering over them, fussing about and wringing your hands wondering if it is all going to work out.

It is all going to work out in the garden, and when you figure out that it is, you will be a more confident gardener.

(This post is part of Garden Bloggers Muse Day, sponsored by Caroline Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.)

(Green Thoughts - A Writer in the Garden by Eleanor Perenyi is the current selection for the Garden Bloggers' Book Club.)


  1. Thanks, Carol. Very good advice indeed for novice gardeners.

  2. Great advice, great quote from Perenyi. It's something that every gardener needs to be reminded of once in a while, I think. "Pretending like you know exactly what you are doing" is good advice, in the garden and (often) out of it :-)

  3. Great advice, Carol, and a wonderful quote. I've already shared it with a new gardener I know.

  4. Yes, yes yes! I call myself a gardener's cheerleader because while I might pick fun at myself and my foibles (like the inability to grow hollyhocks), I encourage everyone on the marvelous gardens they grow; the other comment I would say is to remind people that plants can't read, and we can often get away with a little zonal denial, or a bit more sun/shade/wet/dry than experts say...the moral being we can all grow great gardens. Great post, Carol!

  5. What great advice! Confidence, and patience. :)

  6. Amen. Love the quote. I need to read that occasionally as much as a novice. Especially when I am staring at a blank space wondering what needs to be planted there. I get really nervous when there are blank spaces in my garden. I realize there should be some spaces but... but... its all about that confidence I guess.

  7. Carol, I had that page marked for the book review of Green Thoughts- it spoke to me, too.

    I'll no longer try to use it - you've spoken about it so beautifully!

    [My post for Muse Day will be up whenever I can get one photo to work.]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. Great advice, for me included (~20 years into it). Not so much the planting and trimming, but the choosing and committing. I overthink things and try to fit too much in and end up with things that don't please me. If I just went for it, I bet I'd like my garden more! ~A :-)

  9. Good advice Carol. I think we all can learn something from this.

  10. Carolyn Gail... And thanks for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Muse Day.

    Colleen... I agree, we all have to be reminded sometimes to have more confidence in the garden.

    Pam/digging... Thanks, I try to convince new gardeners, too, that they know more what they are doing than they realize.

    Jodi... Thanks, great comment, too!

    Nancy J. Bond... Yes, the patience is important, too.

    Lisa at Greenbow... I agree, sometimes the blank spaces both us too much and we want to fill them up quickly.

    Annie in Austin... I'd love to read your thoughts on this quote sometime, so don't take it off your list just yet.

    Angela (cottage magpie)... Yes, overthinking is a hazard of gardening or anything, really.

    Curtis... Thanks, I agree!

    Thanks all for the nice comments,
    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  11. You're so right, Carol... much to my dismay! I learned this summer, when I had not enough time to play with and shape the garden as I wanted, that the garden does indeed go on without you. *sigh* Whether we want it to or not.

    So I guess that it can be both a lesson in humility and a lesson in confidence! :)

  12. "Fake it until you make it"
    was advice that I was given once by a friend on her secret recipe for success, but I never was good at taking advice : ) .

    It took me two years to plant my first thing in my completely bare except-for-the-grass garden with no planting experience whatsoever..of course the first thing I planted were ..roses. Perhaps I did listen a little.

  13. Dear Carol,

    You made me feel better. At my age, you would think I'd have lots of experience but every year that passes, I know less. Confusing?

    I wring my hands and worry - constantly on a vigil. But you made a good point. Dig and plant with *confidence* and let them thrive with my help. Contrary to what I feel. I plant with, "gosh, I hope it makes it - oh, it'll die for sure." Coming from a novice.

    Thanks for this post.

  14. Great advice! I really think that your confidence is best thing you can work on when are beginning to garden. Glossy magazines show gardens that are preened and set up up to look perfect for that one shot. In the real world gardens have washing lines, old garden furniture and kid's toys strewn across the lawn! It is unfair to compare your own garden to these unrealistic images.

    The Confident Gardener


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