Last updated 2/25/2019 at 11:57am
Got a garden? Want one?
So where do I start? (Is that a question or a statement – I'm not sure.)
One thing for certain is you have to start where you are. Unless you're planning to move real soon, and then you could plant in containers and take them with you. Or you could dig it all up and move stuff and watch your plants either die or thrive. Or, like most of us do in life, struggle somewhere in between. I know I have and still do.
Hi, my name is John and I'm a gardener - NOT a landscaper, although I have done that work for many years in the past. While I don't claim to be an expert at anything really I do have some opinions. I plan to share them periodically through this column. I'm starting now!
Why do I call myself a gardener? NOT a Landscaper: Because... Azaleas are not supposed to be square! And palm trees are supposed to have leavezzzz -- plural! As in more than the one or three they usually leave. I do hope you can appreciate this.
Now, you might think a gardener would have a beautiful yard with lots of flowers and everything's all neatly trimmed and tidy - that my yard would be the showplace of the neighborhood. Well it's not -- not right now anyway. My yard looks like a gardener used to live here and moved out three years ago. However, I do have lots of flowers. My azaleas are starting to bloom a little early thanks to our crazy weather and the recent showers. I have plenty of flowering weeds like Spanish needles and tassel flower providing pollen and nectar for the bees and butterflies and other wildlife that are still active this time of year. I even have cape honeysuckle and bougainvillea in nearly full bloom because I don't shear or over prune them. Bougainvillea abuse is a whole column by itself! And don't even get me started on what most of you and those well-meaning landscapers do to your crape myrtles. Some of us call it 'Crape Murder'. (See the many articles by Tom MacCubbin in the Orlando Sentinel over the years.)
So what is a garden? What are the rules? What's the right way to do it? Honestly hundreds of books out there are ready to answer all those questions for you. Your local library is a good place to start. Or visit a local used book store - although finding a good garden book there might be a rare find because people don't get rid of their good gardening books.
Let's go back to one of my original questions - where to start. Well, start where you are of course. Why do you want to garden? What are your gardening goals or do you even have any? Are you in the sun or the shade or both? Do you want flowers? Food? Or do you just want an 'attractive' scene to greet you each day as you come and go or gaze out your windows? I personally have many reasons: exercise, vegetables, fresh greens, privacy, wildlife, experimentation, connecting with nature, and I just like to watch things grow.
As I said near the beginning of this column I have many of my own opinions that have evolved in my head over the years. Some of those I'd like to share, however I don't necessarily want to do this in a totally random fashion. Which kind of feels like that is what I'm doing right now so please forgive me. Sometimes I wander. I'm also pretty good with Google for researching garden topics. I also have many favorite websites and online resources that I myself prefer and encourage others to use. But I must warn you some of those writers have opinions too and I don't always agree completely.
Maybe gardening is just a form of play for some of us. And some of us (me) need more of that and I think maybe that's the best reason. Thankfully there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to garden. But some things do seem to work better than others. I also think of a garden as a potentially very personal form of art. And the beauty of art -- or lack thereof -- is so often in the eyes of the beholder.
Thanks for reading.
John Walldorf is a resident of the Lake Wales area, a Polk County native and a retired professional horticulturist.
He is now a Licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Lake Wales, Haines City and the surrounding areas. Send any questions to [email protected] and we'll pass them on to John or you can email him directly at [email protected]