Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What do you like about Gardening?

In a recent post, Laurrie, whose funny and creative blog, My Weeds Are Very Sorry  asked one of her gardening friends, "What do you like best about your garden?" Her friends answer: "The surprises."

In ending her post, Laurrie posed the same question to her readers.

Baptisia and Blue Star in the background

For someone who spends a good deal of time working in, writing about and photographing her garden, I was almost embarrassed to admit I did not have a ready answer for my comment.

I found myself thinking: Just what was it about gardening I liked anyway?

I think I must be one of those cup-half-empty people, because one of my first thoughts was: Well, I could certainly come up with a list of things I don't like about gardening.

The first of the peonies have opened.

Weiglea by the front porch

My first Foxglove ever! I've only been trying to grow them for years.

Blood-sucking bugs should certainly be near the top of my list of negatives. I visit a fair number of gardens and so I feel confident in saying that my garden harbors hordes of mosquitoes like no other.

I don't know if it is our low lying proximity to the river, but the bugs sit waiting to ambush you the moment you step in the garden, like some greasy band of outlaws in a wild western. And add to my list of complaints that winning sound mosquiotes make. It all the charm of a dentist's drill.

There are also black flies in my garden,who like to torture me by pinging into my ears and eyes before the bite my temple of the back of my neck.

Last June, after I had amassed fifteen bites in a matter of a single afternoon, my husband bought me a mesh insect head net.

(Not unlike a ski mask, the mesh bag slips over your head to prevent insects from biting.) Though I was grateful for his thoughtfulness, I felt completely ridiculous when I slipped the net bag over my head.

"Oh this is attractive don't you think?" I asked him. "I look like I should be robbing a convenience store, not gardening!"

"I can just imagine" I continued, "our neighbors calling the police to report a suspicious character lurking in our backyard."

Surely all the work should figure on my list of negatives. The planting, dividing, weeding, watering....

Wait a minute! Come to think of it, I actually like all that work. I like getting out in the fresh air and mucking about in the garden. There an intimacy with nature when you are out there in the thick of things.

Heck, I even like duking it out with mother nature for the control of my garden, even if I know it is a battle I am never going to win.

Iris with Dame's Rocket in the background.


This pretty bush overhangs our front driveway. It is actually belongs to our neighbour.

A Japanese Iris from the back garden (below).

Beauty Bush

When I head out to work in the garden, I always start off with a slow walk around the flowers beds. This is my favorite time in the garden. I look and listen to the bees and the birds. I note my successes, lament my failures and make mental notes on things that need to be done. Despite myself, I yank out the odd weed.

I agree with Laurrie's friend. The garden surprises and it delights on these walks.

Just last weekend, I was taking a strolling around my Circle Garden. One of the first things I planted in this garden was a purple rhododendron. It failed to prosper and got down right straggly looking. I banished it to the back of the yard, where it has been limping along despite my almost cruel neglect. It hasn't bloomed in years.

And as I rounded the bed, there it was all frilly and purple. Blooming despite me. Now wasn't that just the nicest surprise.

I am linking this post to Lisa Gordon's Creative Exchange. To see Lisa's beautiful photography and that of other photographers from all around the world, just click the link.

I am also linking this post to Garden Blogger's Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. This is a great chance to see some wonderful gardens worldwide. Many thanks to Carol for hosting this great event each month.


  1. Your photos are so pretty, heck with models like these they should be. Gorgeous! It's fun to see things blooming in your gardens that have already bloomed here, seeds collected and yanked out. Congrats on your first Foxglove bloom, you'll now be addicted. :)

  2. Oh when I read what you wrote:

    "My first Foxglove ever! I've only been trying to grow them for years."

    I knew you loved the surprises too! Yes, it would be the surprises for me, this wet spring being one surprise after another it seems. Plants that never bloomed together are doing just that this year. Poor lilacs had one day in the sun..that's it!

    Really enjoyed this post, and as always, the lovely photos! What is that shrub of your neighbour's I wonder.

  3. Thanks for the link back and for taking a run at the question "what do you like about your garden"!

    We all focus on the negatives, but need to really think about what we do like. Your surprises and delights are surely the best thing, and your pictures prove it over and over. I love that baptisia and blue star pairing.

    I'm also dying to know what your neighbor's golden leaved plant is... so pretty.

  4. Your flowers are gorgeous! I loved reading about your feelings connected with your garden. You might enjoy reading a similar post authored by Victoria on her delightful blog @Awake With Charm and Spirit. Could your neighbour's plant be a golden mock orange, perhaps? You did not allude to any fragrance, but if it is what I suspect, you will recognize it by its glorious perfume! it smells like orange blossoms.

  5. I love your Foxglove! Gorgeous. Everything in your garden looks spectacular! I am quite envious :) Happy GBBD!

  6. Everytime i see your photos ,I think " How can I explain in words, the emotion I feel ? " - BEAUTY and BEAUTY and PERFECTION ... Love the post, everything, not gest the amazing pictures !

  7. Your flowers are beautiful but your arrangements are magnificent. What do i like best about my garden (gardening)? I like growing things: nurturing them, watching them in all their stages, etc.

  8. Your garden and photos are wonderful! I agree about the element of surprise, but my biggest joy comes from the creative process and being able to perfect things over time. My first visit to your post and I had a great visit! Larry

  9. Jennifer, I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading this! I spent most of my morning working in our gardens, and I guarantee that I have at least 3 black fly bites for every hour I was out there!! What a neat question to think about though. I think for me it is simply the ability to be outside among all of that new life. We have awfully long winters here in NY!

    Your photographs here are absolutely gorgeous, and I thank you so much for sharing them today at The Creative Exchange.

    Have a wonderful evening!


  10. I love how each day brings new growth in the garden....a daily scavenger hunt to see what 'arrived' overnight!
    Love the bug netting. Here in the south bug bites are a way of life I think. Am currently riddled with a dozen or more chigger bites.

  11. I can not really answer the question either. Since I am working in the 'gardening' field, I am happy not gardening pretty often is I get the chance. Much rather go take photos than do the actual work, which I did some today in the 80° weather. I am sure some are wishing they had eighty degrees right about now. Your post was funny and I found it really entertaining. Oh, and something I do like about gardening, is reading all the stories others write about. I am guessing one thing you really like is cut flowers and arranging. You make some beautiful arrangements.

  12. Great post and great are so right on the mixed feelings on gardening...sometimes the things that seem like drudgery are still think we can enjoy...after all, we ARE gardening.

  13. Beautiful photos. I agree with you that the surprises a garden can give us are wonderful.

  14. So many beautiful photos of your garden! What do I like best about gardening? Tomatoes!

  15. You post such wonderful photos and in answer to the question what do I like most about gardening........
    letting someone else do the work so I can enjoy the flowers............

  16. i love your garden and your photos are absolutely beautiful! I'm quite envious! lol!

    to answer your Q. what do i like best about gardening? peonies!
    I also grow my own tomatoes (and herbs), it is simply to grow and you can enjoy eating fresh, organic tomatoes! yum!

    happy gardening!

  17. I enjoyed your post very much about what you like about your garden. It's a lovely garden for sure and that happy rhodie just made it better by surprising you. I think in my garden I like the textures and how it weaves together.

  18. Such a lovely garden and I hear you about the mosquitoes! (I need one of those nets LOL.) What I like is creating something beautiful and then reaping the rewards: fresh herbs and veggies, flowers in vases throughout the house, and a yard that is a total haven.

  19. Great post and fantastic photos. For me I lose time when gardening , no time, no troubles, no worries ,calm and peaceful.

  20. I think I like the smell most about my garden, and I think watering is really the most hated part of gardening.

  21. You are the third blogger I have read today that has featured baptisia. Confirmation that I MUST add it to my own garden! There are many things i like about gardening, but I think the creative process is at the top of the list. Your own garden is fabulous. I love the great variety of flowers you have blooming now.

  22. The colors in your garden are so bright and vital, and your pictures of them are a treat. I like getting lost in my garden, not because it is so big, because it definately is not. I like getting lost in the tasks, even something as mundane as watering.

  23. I know that one thing you must love about gardening is photographing it! :) Your pictures are all so beautiful.

  24. I love most of your huge amount of beautiful flowers:)
    Have a nice weekend

  25. Jennifer , I think all of "us" gardeners wonder at times why do we do this ?? haha
    But there is something in our nature that absolutely thrives when in the garden is the best stress buster I know of .. I completely forget problems and worries and concentrate only on the plants .. and yes .. every day is different .. surprises .. gifts .. what ever you want to call them , the garden GIVES us !
    I love my garden even when I am bone tired from working in it .. the winter is a rest period but way too long ? haha
    PS Your plants are gorgeous girl !

  26. I had the most beautiful fox gloves in Maine but here in NY I haven't had any luck. They bloomed last year but did not seem to grow much and this year, they are straggly and scrawny. I have just moved them (or what's left of them). But here, I do not have black flies - those I do not miss, and yes, I too, had a head net! I never wonder why I like to garden ... I just have to. It is in my spirit. Yours, too by the looks of your beautiful photos.

  27. Like you I sometimes find myself wondering, why am I doing this? (particularly this evening as I creak about the house complaining of my sore back after a full day of digging). There's much that is hard work but at the same time I enjoy that work. My job often fills my head with stress and coming home to dig for hours and release that tension and admire beautiful flowers makes me happy again.

  28. Your garden is so beautiful!! I love your salvia. I hate gardening when it's really hot and humid and sweat drips in my eyes or my shorts start to fall off. But I love almost everything else. I love being exhausted and dirty but knowing that the reward of my efforts is the creation of an ecosystem that nutures the creatures that live in my area. I dislike how ridiculously expensive plants can be!

  29. I love seeing my garden at its best. That is a surprise. Yours is looking wonderful, and I agree with another commenter that you are very good at putting together plant combinations.

  30. So familiar when you mentioned, a list of things which you don't like. Makes me think of when we are considering which plant will look best in a position that maybe deserves something a bit extra special. We find it so easy to list a number of plants which would not look good.Pictures of your plants are just terrific.

  31. I can think of lots of great things about your garden Jennifer. I remember being blown away by it (and still am) when I first found your blog and saw some of your photos.
    I am always intrigued by how a bare piece of land can be transformed by nurturing hands into a beautiful landscape. The same way a cook can take basic ingredients and turn them into a delicious meal. I never feel I'm wasting time in the garden when I see how wildlife responds. It makes me feel like all my tinkering is worth it to lots of other smaller things.
    ps I've been trying with foxgloves for years too. I am having small successes finally but nothing on the spectrum I'd like!


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