Why Gardeners Garden – Part I

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The Original Garden Lady

Why do you, my GardenLady readers, garden? And what are some of your favorite plants in your garden? TheGardenLady column’s readers would love to know and TheGardenLady would like to know about your garden and why and what you dream about and want in your garden.

Since I sometimes think I am getting a bit obsessive as I plant my plants and want to plant more and more different plants and constantly dream about more plants to add to my garden while reading every plant catalog or visiting every local nursery and public and private garden, I think about what my motivation is.

Everland Four seasons garden by floridapfe
Everland Four seasons garden by floridapfe

I love almost all plants. I especially love blooming plants – whether trees, shrubs, bulbs, tubers, perennials, biannuals or annuals. I love color and I love the show of color to go on as long as it can during the year. If Helleborus or snowdrops will bloom in the snow, I want those blooms. And if chrysanthemums will be in bloom past Thanksgiving, I want those blooms. And because I don’t want a day to pass without flowers in bloom, I must plant flowering plants for bloom that will continue for most of the year. I never want to stop having blooms in my yard. And if I can’t have plants in flower, I want to have plants with vivid berries or plants with bright leaves or leaves that change color in the fall. So I dream of adding more plants that will give me all the color that I crave. Green is calming, meditative, cooling and lovely; but I need my fix of color- continuous color.

Michael Pollan, an author of books about plants – read “Botany of Desire” by him – says that we don’t manipulate plants, we are exploited by plants so that we fall in love with them, which makes us want to plant them and tend to them so that they can continue to survive on this planet. And this GardenLady is surely under the spell of plants. (PS When the flowers come with fragrances, that is an added bonus.)

So why does TheGardenLady plant flowers?

As a child who lived on what is referred to as a truck farm, we mainly grew vegetables. We were very poor, just eking out a living on the farm. The one indulgence my mother had was that she always planted flowers. Though she worked what seemed to be day and night in the vegetable fields, caring for the family without having modern appliances such as the washing machine or dryer, cooking and canning for the winter, and caring for a small dairy as well as other animals- chickens, 2 horses, goats, dogs and cats- she always found time for her flowers.

What did she have that flowered in her gardens and around her lawn? There was a small orchard, so there were apple blossoms, plum and cherry blossoms in the spring. There were the catalpa trees. There were lilac, spirea, flowering quince, rose and deutzia bushes. There were Yucca plants, irises, lily of the valley and peonies. Where did she get these plants? Some of the shrubs were planted by the previous land owner. Before that, Leni Lenapi Indians used the land- but I don’t think they planted anything. My parents were the 2nd householder to ever live on that property. What wasn’t there when my parents moved in was gotten from the neighbors. Neighbors shared. No one could afford to buy plants- at least not in the early days at the farm. My mother had gladiola flowers. I never knew where she got them, probably a friend. But I knew she lovingly dug them up each fall and stored them carefully over the winter. And my mother always planted her beloved annual flowers. Annual flowers give flowers all summer long. In exchange for having to plant them every year; these annuals thank you and reward you with constant color.

Morning Glory by NatashaP
Morning Glory by NatashaP

My mother did have to buy new annual seeds yearly other than the marigold and zinnia seeds she saved. One of my mother’s favorite annual was the blue morning glory which she religiously planted to climb up a tree or hang from a basket. Every year the elementary school l attended had one fund raiser. We children would be asked to sell a box of 20 packets of seeds- half were vegetables and half were flower seeds. These seed packets cost the buyer 5 cents per packet or $1 per box. If you were lucky to sell all 20 packets for that $1, you would get one packet of seeds free. Of course, that one free seed packet was incentive enough for us children to try to sell every packet in the box. But in a poor farming community, there weren’t enough people who would be kind enough or have money enough to buy many seed packets. So, I could never sell an entire box to neighbors. Even though we were very poor, my mother would help out by buying what ever remaining packets of seed I had not sold. These were hard earned pennies she kept for just such a purpose. That way she would have her beloved flowers and I could get that one free package of seeds as my contribution to add to her garden.

So to answer my own question of why I garden.

1. To have flowers for myself and to plant them in memoriam as an honor to my beloved mother.

2. To help the earth; tilling the soil brings more worms to keep the soil fertile. By planting I am adding plants to the environment- a more beautiful environment with fresher cleaner air because of the plants.

Pollinated! by Durotriges
Pollinated! by Durotriges

3.The flowers bring more bees and pollinating insects.

12 Days of Christmas Butterflies - #10 Black Swallowtail by Vickis Nature
12 Days of Christmas Butterflies - #10 Black Swallowtail by Vicki's Nature

4.The flowers attract butterflies and moths which delight. I am thoroughly enjoying the Black Swallowtail butterflies, the Yellow Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and the Monarch butterflies among others. And this year I have even seen a few humingbird moths. I hope that some butterflies are taking advantage of my plantings to lay their eggs.

Male Goldfinch by trisheroverton
Male Goldfinch by trisheroverton

5. The flowering plants attract birds. Perhaps these birds are attracted to the insects lured by the flowers. But that is nature. Happy birds add to the joy of my garden. The robins love the more plentiful worms in the soil. I plant yellow flowers because they attract goldfinches. So I was delighted to see one eating my sunflower seeds. My yard is a twitter with birds. Sadly I have not had the good fortune to attrack hummingbirds. But I keep trying to find plants that will be hummingbird attractants.

In the next post, I will give 7 more reasons for why I love to garden.

One Reply to “Why Gardeners Garden – Part I”

  1. I have a beautiful birds of paradise plant infront of my window which attracts hummingbirds every day during the winter months when it blooms.Hummingbirds love bird of paradise.:)

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