Hortus sanus: Chief Gardening Officer

Congratulations! You’ve worked hard to get to the top, you’ve paid your dues and sown your seeds and now you are the Chief Gardening Officer of your very own garden.

You are in charge. You are the one who makes the final decisions. You decide which row to hoe, which weed to pull, which flower to plant. The buck stops, the fruit ripens, on your potting bench.

You are now the one who is responsible for achieving hortus sanus, a healthy garden.

It’s a lot of responsibility, but you’ve trained your whole life to become the Chief Gardening Officer, the CGO. Perhaps you were a garden apprentice as a child, forced to pull weeds or mow the lawn in the hot summer sun. You hated it, but the CGO’s back then said it would be good for you, it would teach you how to someday be the CGO in your own garden.

You weren’t so sure about that. You thought at the time that if having your own garden meant a lifetime of weeding and mowing, then maybe you didn’t want to have a garden.

But somewhere along the way, you decided that you did want your own garden, a bit of hortus sanus in your life.

To prepare yourself, maybe you read books on gardening, memorized the botanical names of your favorite plants, or visited other gardens to observe them and those that worked in them. All the while, you were thinking about what you would do when you finally reached the top of the compost pile and had your very own garden.

Now you are the Chief Gardening Officer and you’ve learned a few things.

You’ve learned that you don’t have as much freedom in the garden as you had hoped. Who does? There may be family members, your own personal board of directors, who insist on reviewing budgets and plans, who want to come out to the garden to have a look-see and express an opinion. But that’s okay – a necessary evil, as it were. It’s still your garden.

You’ve learned that to make it your own garden, you should plant what you want to plant and remove plants that you don’t like. If you acquired your garden through a merger or acquisition and someone else was once the CGO of your garden, you’ve learned that it is okay to overthrow their regime and build up your own because now it’s your garden.

You’ve learned that sometimes you should hire consultants to help you in you garden – garden coaches, garden designers, even landscape architects to give you advice or help with design or just be a sounding board for your own brilliant ideas of what to do with your garden. However, as the CGO, you have the final say. If you don’t like what they say, you can let them go and bring in others.

You’ve also learned that you can hire help for the heavy lifting in the garden, even bring in someone else to mow and weed, if that’s what you want to do! You’re the CGO, after all. You can’t be expected to do it all, all the time.

Yes, congratulations on your promotion. The name plant on the garden shed door finally has your name on it – Chief Gardening Officer.

Carpe hortus – long live your garden.

Now, go out there and be the best Chief Gardening Officer your garden has ever had. Go out there and build up your empire, your hortus sanus, your healthy garden.


  1. As CGO of this garden I can officially say you are quite right about those early years of "training" were well worth the sweat.

  2. What a fine pep talk, Carol! I can picture you walking back and forth in front of the line of us, standing with backs straight and looking ahead, to the gardens in our future. We are ready to assume, or continue, command! :-)

  3. Fantastic post! Makes me want to go out and hug my garden (but it's still dark outside..)

  4. Have just been catching up with the series of posts that I shall call your "Hortus sanus manifesto". It's taken me a while to allow myself to change the things that I don't like in my garden, even when the plants themselves are healthy. Now I re-arrange the planting almost as readily as re-arranging furniture. I had no problems getting rid of or moving plants bequeathed by the previous owner, but learning that 10 years on, some of my own planting no longer worked, as plants grew too big, was harder. And as someone with chronic health problems, the call to balance what you want to do with what is possible is very timely! Thank you for such thought-provoking posts!

  5. I wanna know what happened with the stinky blooms? Did I miss it? I wanna know what your house smelled like when you got home!


Post a Comment

Comments are to a blog what flowers are to a garden. Sow your thoughts here and may all your comments multiply as blooms in your garden.

Though there is never enough time to respond to each comment individually these days, please know that I do read and love each one and will try to reciprocate on your blog.

By the way, if you are leaving a comment just so you can include a link to your business site, the garden fairies will find it and compost it!