The Perfect Plant for a Plant Person

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Whew! It has been a whirlwind of a few weeks. The urge to plant and see color has become extreme for many individuals, myself included. As evidence, my neighborhood lawnmowers have joined the song of springtime on sunny/non-rainy/somewhat decent weather days. 

As many of you know, my husband and I have purchased a house. This house came with ample yard space and a twenty-foot palm tree that does not match either of our tastes. We have since discovered, there’s quite a bit of upkeep. This entire concept of yard work is entirely new to us. 

I sheepishly have to admit, I have even calculated the cost-benefit of hiring a landscaper (gasp) to upkeep our yard while we are busy getting ready for spring in the nursery. 

 It amazes me, I can work every day surrounded by plants neatly lined up on the tables, but spend one hour in my own yard, and I feel like I do not know anything about gardening. Baffling still, I know there are many options of beautiful plants that will last many, many seasons, but I find myself looking for a “quick fix” – a blooming summer annual that is just so hard to resist. 

Even my windows have hung empty after the holidays, waiting for a nice annual basket to bless the house front. It’s just that weird time that is both quiet and in-between seasons. 

Alongside my constant struggle to become a gardener at home, at work I found myself in a room surrounded by people who knew a whole lot more than I did. Before you ask, no, I was not at a family dinner discussing math – my own admitted weak point. I went to my very first garden club meeting.

It was a situation I had never faced before, and I have been to professional nursery trade shows where I was less intimidated. I’ve even held discussions and presented alone to the proverbial sharks in college with a completely fake product and reliable business plan and felt less threatened.

Yet, here, with my back literally against a wall, I was surrounded by a group of professional gardeners. Not the kind of gardener who cleans up your yard, or the ones who speak at conventions and classrooms. The kind of gardener with experience. 

Here is the kicker, I was not even speaking! I just came as emotional support! It got me thinking though, how would I give a talk or a class to a similar group? What could I possibly talk about and fill an hour’s worth of time that had meaningful information to someone who may already know the subject?

I suppose everyone starts somewhere, and the journey, not to mention the style, can be so varied.

But I learned something very important: A lot of people are intimidated by gardening, even after years of experience in digging and planting. 

Everyone struggles, and our struggles may not be the same in every yard. One of us may have slugs, the other may struggle with water control. Everyone is looking for answers, and many of them turn towards garden centers. Truth is, while we work with a lot of plants and can tell you as many tips as we would like, we are not in your garden. 

So, we need you to tell us what is going on out there.

Gardening, though, need not be a perfectionist game. In fact, when pressed, most gardeners will admit that it’s been a numbers game: They have simply killed more plants than the average person. 

I have found much of it is just trial and error. Try something half in one way and the other half the other way. Does it work better? Then you have your answer. Test for your friends and then compare. And trade secrets more often.

Gardening, I have discovered, is about sharing the journey with others. Generations to come are only getting more and more interested in the “outdoors” and particularly plants in general. This hand-me-down knowledge is the kind that ought to be shared and nurtured. In my experience, what better way to start than by simply introducing more plants to life as we know it.

Know somebody with a birthday coming up? Pick them out a plant. Know somebody with a large event, wedding, baby, retirement? Pick them out a plant. Housewarming? Plant. Get well soon? Plant. There are many excuses, and some of you already have the right idea! 

More and more often, I see or hear about customers coming in and picking up a plant and a gift card for someone else. It can sometimes be intimidating, and I’ve noticed fraught with moments of overthinking. But I’ll let you in on a secret: There is no perfect plant, any plant-lover will find a space for one more plant. 

Even if your special someone is not a plant lover, you have just shared something you love with them, which can make all the difference. 

With good weather and colorful seasons approaching, I encourage you to be outside, spend time with those around you, and share more of what you love. While we can’t all be almost-there-garden-professionals, we still can be happy to join in any garden journey.