Gardening as Process: Dreaming It into Existence

Gardening is a process. Elements of that process are, in their own way, like the elements of any creative undertaking. You can’t somehow leap to a finished garden without going through all of the steps. Might as well make them fun.

Since the manual labor of fashioning the garden takes place during the growing season, for most of us in the northern hemisphere fall or winter is the best time to take the first step in the process --- dreaming and planning. With a cup of cider to warm your hands, a fire in the fireplace, a fuzzy throw to snuggle under, a pile of books and magazines to stimulate ideas, and notebooks or sketchbooks to capture your thoughts, many a pleasant day can be devoted to what you want your garden to become.

Since you’re just dreaming, you might as well put everything you could possibly want into your vision of the perfect garden (editing things out comes later). Lawn, no lawn, or minimal lawn? Border beds, island beds, or both? Trees, shrubs, annuals, or perennials? How many? Where? What color(s)? Terrace, patio, or deck? What kind of wood or paving? Manmade or natural? Enclosed with walls and gates, or wide-open stretches of wildflower meadow? Food or ornamental plants? Exotics or natives? Water feature or no? Victorian urns or avant-garde ornaments?

The dreaming part of the process can address everything from beginning to end, be broken up into phases so that each stage looks complete in itself, or approached section-by-section, for example, the front garden, the east garden, the blue garden, etc. There are as many “right” ways to do this as there are gardeners.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun, not frustrating. Tackle what you think you can handle and no more. Your garden should suit the way you live now. Maybe the water feature should wait until your toddler is older. You can still choose the spot where it will eventually go --- right where the sandbox is.

That’s one of the great things about the process of gardening: As you change and grow, so can your garden.

You can start dreaming and planning now by signing up for my 10-week Cultivating The Inner Gardener Course at 

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