I totally understand the hesitancy of some people to dive head first into “gardening.” Not too long ago, I was one of those people who was timid about “gardening” for a number of reasons. The high probability that I would not be able to keep a plant alive for more than the few days after I purchased it was intimidating to me, as were many other factors that clouded my reality of what “gardening” actually is. I often heard myself ask…myself, “What if I put it in the wrong place? Why are all these plants so expensive? Yeah, but is it deer resistant? Who has time for this anyway!?!” But today, I am advocating for gardening for the everyday, busy, still-employed person who is interested even slightly in the idea of gardening- from someone who has been there (and sometimes still is)!
I now present to you Gardening Ashley Style, 101:
I don’t have a “Green Thumb.” No one has a green thumb. If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that you have a flesh-colored thumb. Like most things in life, the more you practice something, the better you get. This unsurprisingly holds true for gardening. If you have even a little bit of patience, you too can become better at planning, planting, and enjoying the beauties of your own garden.
I don’t have the time. It is true that maintaining a level of perfection as seen at Versailles (or at Ole Miss) requires painstakingly constant attention and rotation of plants (not to mention LOTS of moolah). Be realistic with your time investment- ON THE FRONT END! If you have relatively little time to consistently spend in your garden, try to plant perennials that live year after year. Also consider options that require less maintenance, like choosing native varieties of plants, as they naturally occur in our area and can pretty well take care of themselves.
I don’t want to get dirty/sunburned/sweaty. If you’re like me, you don’t like to appear dirty and unkempt ever. The good news is that I have never heard of anyone who spent time in their garden only to find that their newly acquired garden grime didn’t wash off. As to the sunburn aspect of gardening, please always use sunscreen. A wide-brimmed hat also protects skin from damaging rays and is pretty fun to wear!
I don’t own overalls/coveralls. No worries. These are completely optional and do not affect the outcome of gardening.
I don’t own my property- why bother planting anything? There are these things called containers and pots, and most of them are pretty attractive. The awesome thing about these containers and pots is that they can hold plants that actually live! But wait- they are mobile as well! I know what you’re thinking: OMG my mind is blown! Yeah, mine too, because container gardening is fun and rewarding in that most plants do very well in pots, and you can change up the arrangement of pots as you see fit. Another plus is being able to bring them with you should you move from one place to another, which means no time or money lost to gardening.
To close, I thought I’d share some realistic and practical rewards to gardening. Disclaimer: the contents listed below are solely the outcome of one person’s gardening adventure and do not guarantee that others will experience all or any of the same results.
It’s rewarding! There are many days I’ve spent begrudgingly in the garden knowing there is probably something interesting on Netflix that I might not have seen yet, or the pool is tempting, or –insert excuse of choice here-. But on those first spring or summer days when I notice bulbs emerging, flowers opening, or fruit ripening I know all my hard work was worth it! Gardening is not always for the person seeking immediate gratification. However, it is always for the person who can be pleasantly surprised by the beautiful results.
Your neighbors will be jealous. Your yard may turn out to be the envy of the Jones’. And just think of how satisfying it could be to invite someone into your home where you have arranged fresh cut flowers. They may ask where you got them, and you can smugly reply, “Why, my garden of course! It was nothing, really, I didn’t even break a sweat or get dirty!”
It’s healthy. Being outside and digging in the dirt not only provides a level of activity higher than opening your wallet to remove money and handing it over to your landscaper, but has many positive health results. Vitamin D from the sun is said to regulate your body’s absorption of calcium and phosphorus and facilitates normal immune system function. Just walking around outside increases heart rate and leads to better heart health. Not to mention the natural stress relief being outside can bring.
If after reading this you are of the opinion that gardening is some whimsical activity that is –for now at least- still out of your reach, don’t fret! I’m sure there will be gardens for you to peer upon and smile without having to do the hard work. And for those of us who have done the hard work, we will feel rewarded when spring and summer arrive and will be pleased to let you enjoy the fruits of our labor- sometimes literally!