Growing Pains

Sedum Flower Show

I am infatuated with plants. My particular crush of the moment is on vegetable plants. But I have room in my heart for them all. Sometimes even weeds make me blush. I just can’t choose one type to court.

This indiscriminate love has led me to Punk Rock Gardens. I have the opportunity to take a full time horticulture journey. I’d like to take you with me.

This space has room for discussion of many aspects of gardening and growing. Please know I am a student, learning and discovering everyday after gardening for more than 20 years. While I find certain gardening directions more attractive than others, I embrace tolerance and set no rules.

My garden reflects this. No typical landscape architect would consider plant pairings that suit me fine in my garden. Self-expression has led to a visual adventure in my landscape. There may be more noise than harmony. And honestly, there is very little purity.

I can’t seem to move my thinking past veggies this spring. This is new. I keep asking myself why. I think I finally have part of the answer. My relationship with vegetable plants is simple.

I am conflicted about ornamental plants. I am torn between what I’ve known and enjoyed and what I am learning.

Tiarella CordifoliaJudy Bono, The Gardener of the Owl Valley, and Jan Getgood, of Meadowood Nursery, have already taught me much about use of native plants. I have two grassy areas in my garden. I plan to replace the sod with native plants in the spring.

While I am swayed by the multiple reasons to rely on native plants, I can’t promise to tear out my beloved euphorbia or sedum. I love their refreshing architectural shape and interesting foliage colors.

Perhaps the first infatuation with a new plant is what leads some of us to a passion for gardening. You spy a plant across a crowded garden center. It’s a new green in the shade section. Bravely, you edge close to the plant, gently pick up the tag, read the light and soil requirements and think, “ Ahhh, maybe this is the one.” You take it home. Nurturing and watching the plant develop brings either joy or disappointment.

Rules can limit a creative gardening experience. Varying mindsets dictating that planting beds must be certain dimensions or that certain plants should serve only as background plants, while others belong in the vegetable garden, are all under suspicion in my mind.

I leave room for a change of heart. As I learn more, I suspect I will become a bit more of a purist.

There is one solidified aspect of my appreciation of growing. It is my vision of the soil as a commune of living organisms and of the interdependence of all living things.

I hope you grab your shovel, come with your own passions and questions, and join me on this journey. This spring is my first step and I’m loving it.

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About the Author

Laura Mathews

Laura is a garden writer and photographer. She writes online content for gardening websites, writes for gardening publications and blogs for three gardening blogs. Her interests are local food, organic gardening, backyard homesteading and native plants. She assists gardening related clients with social media. And occasionally, she'll offer a solicited opinion as a garden coach.

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