'Whatever the problem, be part of the solution.'
~Tina Fey, "Bossypants," 2011
'Whatever the problem, be part of the solution.'
Problems certainly are overwhelming in today's world--including the natural world. But after many years of comparing wisdom and advice with gardeners and garden bloggers, I'm convinced we're part of the solution.
If you need convincing, take a look at this TED talk that has been circulating about "Why Bees Are Disappearing." If you haven't seen it yet, and without getting into too much detail, the main point is that bees need more flowers--particularly native flowering plants--for pollination, and agriculture needs healthy bees. Obviously, gardeners, in general, are part of this particular solution. Yes, of course, we can help!
As individual gardeners, we can't save the world ... or the butterflies ... or the bees. But as a large group of people working together on the solutions, we can make a difference.
That's the biggest lesson I learned this summer. There's hope and joy in knowing that gardeners around the world are making similar efforts to tend their gardens and, in the process, improving habitats for their gardens' visitors--of all species.
With that, I thank you for doing your part, and for sharing your unique lessons from the past season. Wrapping up the "Lessons Learned" meme:
Lyn at The Amateur Weeder, in New South Wales, Australia, admitted that even though she's a stickler for identifying plants by their Latin names, she misidentified Veronica hederaefolia as Stellaria media (isn't that a common mistake?). She also discovered that yellow is her favorite garden color during her mild winters, and that she doesn't want an interesting winter garden--she wants it to rest!
Karin at Southern Meadows, in Georgia, U.S., faced unusual growing conditions this season. Summers are typically hot, humid, and dry in her part of the world, and for the past three years, they've had extreme drought. But this summer, it rained ... a lot! All the drought-tolerant plants she'd planted didn't like the rain. Her lesson: Get to know the native "weeds" in your garden--they're the plants most likely to survive the extremes.
Holley at Roses and Other Gardening Joys, in Texas, U.S., finally realized it's sometimes necessary to remove plants to make her garden the best it can be. "I don't want a garden that's just alive," she explained. "I want something more.... I want the garden of my dreams."
Helene at Graphicality-UK, in London, U.K., found a great spot for Sunflowers in her garden, but some of the seedlings struggled. She planted seeds directly in the soil between her Roses and shrubs. A few Sunflowers put on a great show, but others were shaded by the other dominating plants. Next year, she'll plant the Sunflower seeds in pots first, so they can get a good start before placing them in the garden.
Diana at Elephant's Eye, in Western Cape, South Africa, recounted the lessons she has learned in her beloved garden since moving to the property in 2007. She'll move to a new place soon, but the garden lessons will all be pleasant memories and a key part of her knowledge base. The challenges of gardening in her Mediterranean climate--long, hot summers and wet winters--mean she now knows a lot about rain gardening.
Tammy at Casa Mariposa, in Virginia, U.S., shared a humorous take on the importance of listening to Mother Nature. In a laugh-out-loud post, she admitted that she failed to follow Mother Nature's guidance, which resulted in some not-so-surprising garden challenges. But she also shared some of her stunning successes.
Rose at Prairie Rose's Garden, in Illinois, U.S., shared lessons from her vegetable garden. "Just when I'm feeling rather smug that I've acquired enough knowledge to call myself a true gardener," she said, "I learn some new things that make me realize how little I really know." Rose included five excellent lessons for anyone who wants to grow vegetables--or any other plants. One key lesson: Nature can be cruel.
Susie at Life.Change.Compost., in Oregon, U.S., tied life decisions to garden lessons. We all know they parallel each other, but Susie drew a poignant comparison between planting seeds and deciding whether or not to have children. "No guarantees, this business of planting seeds," she said. "If I am going to look a heartache in the face, a garden is a good place to do it."
Angie at Angie's Garden Diaries, in Scotland, U.K., experimented with gathering seeds from plants in her garden, with mixed results. She collected seeds from Meconopsis, Primula, and Tropaeolum. She described how some of her techniques worked well, and others didn't--but she was pleased to call herself a "real gardener" and will collect and sow more seeds in the future.
Donna at Gardens Eye View, in New York state, U.S., learned that she needs to make time to simply "be" in her garden--for her physical and her mental health. "I think it's best to take our cue from the garden and nature," she said. "Feel its rhythm and connect to it. Savor the opportunities as they happen."
Sue at Diary of a Suburban Gardener, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, learned why it's helpful and important to incorporate indigenous plants in a garden. One benefit is that they attract wildlife and serve as the perfect habitat for critters to live out their life cycles. Sue also learned how to create more "lizard lounges" in her garden.
Others who participated through their comments included Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams, who wished she'd planted more Zinnias. Donna at Garden Walk, Garden Talk reminded us that nature is still teaching us lessons, and she hopes it isn't too late for us to learn them. Lynne at Irish Garden House, learned to water less, let nature care, and reduce the number of bird feeders.
Sarah at Galloping Horse Garden learned that it's nicer, but more distracting, to have an office looking out onto the garden. The Phytophactor shared that sometimes Swamp Milkweed volunteers where least expected. Aaron at Garden of Aaron had a powdery mildew issue on his Zinnias, and will plant a different variety next year. Corner Gardener Sue planted her Zinnias late, but she did get some blooms in September.
That's quite an impressive collection of garden lessons this season. If you've written a post during the past few months that fits here, feel free to add the link in your comments. And, of course, if I've forgotten anyone, please let me know and I'll update the post.
Thanks to all--for sharing the lessons and for caring about the solutions.