Interest in gardening has jumped. And jumped high. I’ve been gardening and writing about it for a long time and I’ve never seen interest like this. It gives me heart, thinking our world will have more people growing some of their own food, fruit and flowers, along with maybe some shade and privacy. At a minimum, I’m hopeful people will have the time to notice nature in and outside their landscape and how, with a careful eye, it changes every day.
I remember when I first got interested in gardening. It wasn’t brought on by a pandemic, but rather the purchase of a home and reading a newspaper article. The article talked about combining a pink geranium, blue ageratum and yellow marigold in a pot. I did that, set the pot on the front stoop, loved it and have never looked back.
Lessons in patience
The thing about gardening is it teaches us patience. I’m not a patient person by nature, but gardening demands it. You just can’t make the tree grow faster, or make the sun shine if it won’t.
Part of the patience lesson is the weather, of course. We’ve all set our houseplants, succulents and seedlings outdoors too early. We find them nipped by late spring’s cold temps, frozen in place or shredded by windy storms. It’s best to wait on our houseplants’ summer vacation outdoors until May, or when night temperatures will not fall below 50F.
Where to find basic info
Beginners may not realize all of the free resources available to help them succeed. Online retailers’ websites or mail order catalogs describe plants and usually provide essential information on their success, such as light and water needs and size. Even if planning to shop locally, the internet has a lot of information that will guide you in your purchases.
Plant tags contain limited information, but usually tell you sun or shade, wet or dry, whether it’s an annual or perennial, spacing and if disease or insect resistant. Then there are those tags that just say annual or houseplant with out identifying what the plant is. Good garden centers usually add additional tags that identify the plant, especially houseplant. If you don’t know what a plant is, ask someone.
I’ve put together a comprehensive listing of resources for beginners, gardeners who’ve been away from the dirt for a while and those who might need the most current info and research available.
Purdue University is a treasure trove of gardening and landscaping information, including recommended plants for the Indiana landscape. There also are resources on insects and diseases, best lawn care methods and more. Other states have similar resources at their land grant colleges, such as Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Kentucky and the University of Illinois. Cornell University and Virginia Tech also are resources for gardeners about anywhere. Go to Google (or whatever search engine you use) and type in something like Purdue perennials and go from there.
It will be all right
Please, give yourself a break. Yes, it’s disappointing when a seed fails to sprout or a plant dies, but that happens. And it’s all right. Nature is not perfect and neither are we.
A lot of gardening is out of our control, like the weather. We adjust and take it as a learning experience. Or, a challenge. Either way, Mother Nature will have her way. Gardening is growing adventure. Give it a try.