Passion and patience at the outset can seem to be unlikely partners.
Passion being the intense driving force behind our
Arriving at a happy balance enlisting these two characteristics has to be what gardeners everywhere uniquely possess.
Practicality is putting both passion and patience into action and working diligently to achieve the results we long for. Whether in a small garden or a larger garden it makes no difference.
No garden is created in an instant. Not a real, living garden designed and planted from the sweat of our brow with nurturing hands by a novice home-gardener.
Building a garden step by step requires large doses of unwavering passion and devotion and along the way will reflect much time, attention, dedication, and inspiration given to it.
Somewhere in a gardener's enthusiasm for achieving success in the projects we undertake is also a willingness to admit we fail at times. Patience is enlisted to learn, to grow personally, to share, to encourage, and to try again with hope we will master some of our mistakes along the way.
Looking back, at this juncture of my life, it is kind of difficult to pinpoint just when my 'love of gardening' became a deeply rooted passion that coupled with the practice of patience and practicality now brings me a great deal of personal satisfaction and fulfillment.
What I can determine without question is that I am most assuredly passionate about gardening. I have indeed had to learn patience and it hasn't been an easy lesson. Practicality comes naturally for me as I never mind being one to get things done no matter how much work is involved.
Creating Hoe and Shovel gardens has been a most rewarding endeavor. That said, it hasn't been without its failures. It has been a get-your-hands-dirty, one project at a time, build-it-from-the-ground-up-effort.
In this post wouldn't it be kind of fun to have a look back at some points of that progression? If one single person is encouraged to KEEP growing or to START growing their own space it would be worth every minute of putting this post together. My intent is to encourage you at whatever level you find your gardening skills.
Many of the choices I made early-on were without knowledge of Florida-Friendly principles or the environmentally sustainable practices I adhere to now.
An example being that common sense prevailed when deciding to add fallen oak leaves and (cold) composted grass clippings to all the planting beds in lieu of purchased mulches that tended to be expensive. Little did I realize how much good nutrition those broken down leaves and unscientific composting were adding to my plantings. It made practical sense then as it does even now.
Inspired by my daughter's discovery of the above photo (actually I've put two together for a more panoramic view) from her own box of memories ~~ this idea to travel back to the beginnings of this garden was conceived. She recently handed the pictures to me expressing how remarkable it is that the back gardens have turned into a little haven of plant-life compared to the expanse of grassy lawn she and her 2 brothers grew up with.
Endless games of every sport were played across three adjoining yards and the boys even turned the woods behind us into dirt bike trails. The four oak trees and one drake elm (since removed) you see above were planted in 1991 at a cost of $10.00 each. The width of the each trunk only an inch or so in diameter.
All I really knew back then was that I wanted to create some shade in a barren back yard.
My daughter took the photos a few years later because a pricey housing development was being built behind us. Even though at that point all my children were out of the 'playing in the woods' stage it was a sentimental thing for her realizing a 12 foot wall was about to separate what had been a very large playground for them growing up. I'm grateful she thought to snap the BEFORE pictures.
Digging through the archives of digital photos it wasn't until around 2003 that I started chronicling progress just for the purpose of cataloging (even so, apparently I wasn't very good at it as there were not many available).
Other than the classic circular ring of seasonal annuals popped in around the bottom of each tree it was 12 years (2003) after the trees were planted that the first official beginnings of an understory was carved out ~ which can be seen above. It joined the four oaks together with one continuous planting bed surrounding them. It was every bit trial and error based on instinct. (The 12' wall is very prominent at this point.)
The front gardens had a head start with mature stands of oak trees present when we moved in. It was fun to find this photo of Persian shield (and of course caladiums)from 2003 where I now have variegated shell ginger planted as the middle layer instead.
Okay let's go back around to the back and concentrate on the progression of those small live oaks and how this gardener grew with them.
Lots of lawn remained in August 2005. But with shade growing denser from maturing trees (far back) the temptation to remove even more grass is deepening.
Observing the changes these wonderful shade trees have brought to my garden over time ~~
I have a saying, "time is passing anyway ~~ you might as well be growing a tree while it does." Now that I think about it, it may be stolen from someone... I can't remember~~ but I like it and I say it all the time.
The view from my kitchen window was improving all the time at this point. This ~~ seeing pretty things from the kitchen window ~~ is my inspiration for many projects. Typically if I'm not in the garden I'm in the kitchen. I like my views to be peaceful and relaxing.
The drake elm in the SE corner was removed in April 2006 to make way for what was intended to be a sunnier side of the garden. The wall was built to add architectural interest and height. ***An interesting observation is that presently not only is the wall hardly visible due to obstruction by plants but those boulder stones can hardly be seen anymore as well. Note to self: I should do something about seeing those boulder stones again. I do love them. (I wrote about this project's step by step progress a long time ago here.)
Meanwhile, by October 2006, the original (back) planting beds created in 1998, connected by an arbor laden with confederate jasmine, continue on their journey to maturity. The Natchez crape myrtle and standard ligustrum tree growing larger and providing more shade than I ever predicted in their infancy. Soon it will be discovered these two trees will be encroaching on my supposed sunnier SE corner. Write it off to trial and error.
A few months of summer growth and the SE corner is begging to be tweaked. The ensuing enlargements are detailed here.
The area around the four live oaks is expanded even further out into the lawn (but not for the last time) and the fruits of those earlier (2003) plantings are beginning to show signs of continuity. Blending the contiguous SE corner wall planting with an ever-enlarging center garden is proving to be a pleasing element as well by 2008.
A view (in 2008 ~above) from the back side of the SE corner property line looking horizontally across the garden through the four oaks offers an even different perspective of the changes.
So much lawn has been removed and numerous pathways and plants have been added in the last two years, one at a time, that the view from 2008 is hardly recognizable.
Many visions and designs have been realized over the years. All can be attributed, in part, to a passion for beauty and patience to wait for small plants to mature and the practicality of each specimen lovingly planted one at a time.
Additions of more Florida natives and learning how to group plants with like-needs and chasing appropriate pockets of sunlight for the more sun-needy plants has all been part of the learning adventure. And isn't it true there is always more to learn!
Seeing lush foliage packed in around those four oaks today it's kind of hard to remember where we started. But important to remember nevertheless!
A gardener's garden is never built quickly.
When I look today at how the tropical pathway has grown in just one year I'm reminded of all those wonderful micro-nutrients and the water holding power the organic layering has provided over the years. Which translates to no step is too small. No energy is wasted. Every little bit helps. And it all pays off in the end.
The latest project created and designed, along with the circle garden, in the spring of 2010, was the northside berm (above). The idea was to stretch out a wide, raised border along the north property line almost the entire length of the back garden to provide some separation and privacy between neighbors.
It has far exceeded my expectations in achieving a natural, visual barrier while attracting and feeding even more wildlife as the majority of plants are Florida natives and the remainder are Florida-Friendly.
Hopefully this wordy post offers motivation to gardeners who struggle with trying to complete a garden in fast motion. What if we put our passions to work FOR us! Adding some patience to our drive and lots of practicality ~~ admitting time is really our friend in a garden.
A garden is never finished. What fun would it be if we ever put our hoes and shovels to rest?
Mine will likely never retire.
Happy gardening and thanks for hanging in!