September 21, 2013

Lessons and solutions

hyacinth

'Whatever the problem, be part of the solution.'

~Tina Fey, "Bossypants," 2011



There are many variations on this sage advice, but I like Tina Fey's take on it.

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.

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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.

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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.

viburnum

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.

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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.

moss

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.

swing

34 comments:

  1. Fantastic post! How did I miss this meme. gail

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    1. Thanks, Gail! Please join in when you can! The next one will begin at the end of November and run through the solstice. For now--Happy Autumn!

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  2. How nice it is to have other gardeners solutions in one place, and to know that we are struggling and learning together.

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    1. Thanks, Patty. I agree--it's helpful to compare notes and learn lessons together. Gardens certainly are great teachers!

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  3. Beth what a great wrap up with so many lessons learned around the globe. Ones we can all share in. One of the reasons I became a native plant/wildlife gardener was to help do my part to help the bees and other critters. We seem to forget that without these critters we cannot survive. I hope to keep delivering that message and hope others will learn to live with and love these native plants and critters...thanks for keeping the important message going my friend!!

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    1. The fact that a bee expert says we're at a tipping point with bee colonies is scary. I hope our combined efforts will prevent a terrible loss of bees. Also, I've heard the monarchs compared to the "canary in the coal mine"--the world could survive without monarchs, but they signal bigger problems. And why would we want butterflies to disappear?

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  4. Thanks for the round up of all the hard won wisdom. Once again I missed my chance to contribute, our trip was badly timed from that point of view. I'll try harder next time.

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    1. You were busy with a wonderful, well-deserved trip! Please join in when you can, but I know we all must pace the memes and the themes. I'm looking forward to reading more about Paris and London!

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  5. when I see our neighbour's gardens, clean and tidy, lawn and Roundup, I despair. Turn my eyes to the many garden bloggers around the world waiting in my Feedly, and remind myself that together we are the change we want to see. Learning together.

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    1. It's a balancing act, isn't it? But I think some people don't realize it really isn't that hard to garden without pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. And to research a little bit to add more plants that are native to our own locales. It's simply a different mindset. Yes, we are all learning together. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Diana!

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  6. I love this meme. It's such a great way to bring wisdom and a sense of community to the common issue of how humbling and important gardening is. I'm so glad you do this. :o)

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    1. Thanks, Tammy! And thanks for participating. Each gardener brings a unique and powerful contribution. I guess that illustrates what we can do when we combine our talents, passions, and gardening enthusiasm.

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  7. Thanks for listing all our trials and errors in the gardens, that's how we all learn - by our own and other's lessons :-)
    May I just add it has been an amazing summer for bees and butterflies here in London this year, never seen so many! The good weather must certainly have been a factor, we haven't had such a good summer for decades.
    Have a great week!

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    1. How wonderful that you've had lots of butterflies and bees! Butterflies have been a bit sparse in many parts of the U.S., so we're envious. I've noticed a lot of bees here, though. And I'm very happy that you had a picture-perfect summer! We all deserve one once in awhile. ;-)

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  8. Thanks for sharing all the lessons learned! That beautiful photo at the end reminds me to take a walk in the garden, and then sit awhile to take in nature's sights and sounds, for rejuvenation of the soul is what a garden is all about.

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    1. Sure thing, Deb. I know you have a beautiful garden for reflection, too. The scene at the end is the "wild" natural part of the garden, looking into the cultivated part. It had just rained after a period of dry weather. So all the plants really perked up. Joy. :)

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  9. I learn so much from reading other blogs. Your meme is a great way to provide even more information to gardeners. We saw a Monarch butterfly in the yard a couple of weeks ago. The first one we've seen for a very long time!

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    1. How wonderful that you saw a monarch this late in the season! I saw a black swallowtail the other day and was thrilled! Maybe this warm weather will give the butterfly population a little boost for next year.

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  10. Since I started my garden in North Carolina I've always tried to focus on plants for bees and other pollinators. Partly it's to help them out, but it's also for me! It's like watching a fish tank - there is something very mesmerizing about it, and also very peaceful. Fortunately, I have not noticed a decline in bees here. But I'm still waiting for the monarch butterflies. They are nowhere to be found, and that's even with milkweed.

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    1. The bees are pretty plentiful here, too, Sarah. But I guess declining populations are a problem in some parts of the country. And bee colony collapse is unfortunate. I agree--they're fun to watch, and they're beneficial. I only saw a few monarchs in my garden, but I saw quite a few at the state parks. I hope their numbers will increase for next summer (or at least they won't decrease anymore--maybe that's all we can hope for at this point).

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  11. Thanks for hosting this once again, Beth. I've also learned that one of the best ways to learn about gardening is to listen to other gardeners and learn from their experiences.

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    1. Thanks for participating, Rose! I agree--no matter how long I've gardened, I'm always learning something new--especially from other gardeners.

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  12. Sometimes I feel like my garden is a personal indulgence, but then I remember the birds, bees, butterflies, and other creatures that make my garden their home. Where would they go otherwise? I think we gardeners are doing a great service to the earth.

    A lot of lessons this quarter! I don't think any of us will ever stop learning in the garden! The more I know the more I realize how little I know. :)

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    1. I agree, Holley. Gardeners have a special purpose, especially now with less public land set aside for natural ecosystems. It's actually kind of a big responsibility.

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  13. I have so many lessons learned... not enough time to post about them... some day. I enjoy the lessons you post.

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. Totally understandable! Please join in when you can, because I know you have plenty of lessons to share.

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  14. This is a great meme, and I really enjoyed reading all the lessons learned, you do this meme so well. I love the photos that you posted here and the last one has a magical element about it. Have a great week.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I took most of the photos for this post just after the rain, and all the plants seemed swelled and happy with the moisture. The last photo was taken from deep in the woods out into the open area of the garden.

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  15. The lesson I learn over and over again is that a garden really needs more weeding time than I am ever able to give it. I keep trying, though.

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    1. Yes, that is so true! This year more than others for me--especially in my potager garden. I made a stupid mistake and purchased Hay for mulch instead of Marsh Hay. I've been weeding out grass shoots all summer. Never again!

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  16. Cool meme! I'll watch for the next one in November! Happy Autumn (sigh, I'm not ready yet.)

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    1. Thanks! I do hope you'll join in! Happy Autumn...I know, I wasn't ready for it until recently, either. Now, I'm enjoying it because it has been pretty mild. No complaints here until it gets cold. :(

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  17. Like you, I believe it will take many working towards environmental betterment to make a difference, but in the huge numbers of people in this world, the many polluting corporations, the farmland swallowing up nature, the feat is monumental. One step at a time the saying goes... one garden at a time...

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    1. Yes, it seems monumental, doesn't it? I like what you said about one garden at a time, Donna. :)

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