Your garden may frustrate you during watering restrictions or it may not be close to how you want it either because it is very young or it has diminished from its ‘glory days’.
Letting go of expectations of a garden that should measure up to some unobtainable level of perfection is both unreasonable and unhealthy. That is not to say that we shouldn’t get out there and be weeding, pruning and fertilising but we are not to lose sight of what the garden is there for.
Therefore, we need to ask the question, what is the garden there for? From my own perspective, I want to be able to wander around my own garden and enjoy it whatever the season and whatever needs doing. I missed some pruning last winter but I know next winter the pruning will still be there. I make a mental note of what needs doing without racing to the shed to get the required tools to do it. I’ll pick something to eat and sit down and make more mental notes, usually enough to override the previous ones I’ve made, except if it involves a 2 stroke motor. I’ve found that noisy, smelly and slightly dangerous garden equipment is great as you look like you are doing something that is noisy, smelly and slightly dangerous but is in fact great fun. It could be just a boy thing and nothing to do with gardening at all.
Anyway, my point is that you don’t need to be doing anything in particular in your garden to enjoy it. As an Australian most of now this instinctively. Take a BBQ for example. This is merely a way to be in or near your garden while actually doing something else. Many of us have views into the garden from kitchens, lounges and dining rooms for the same reasons.
One of the main tasks in a garden is managing change. From season to season the conditions you and your garden endure or enjoy changes as do the conditions from year to year. How we adapt to these changes will determine how our gardens will look and come through events such frost, wind, flooding and drought. I’m sure you can add a few of your own! All these are quite normal in the Australian landscape and shouldn’t be seen as devastating to a garden but merely part of the whole which makes gardening so interesting and at time challenging.
One single major change we have had to make is to do away with sprinklers. The choices then become try and maintain existing plants but water differently and/or use different plants altogether if in the past we have used high water use plants. The dilemma often is what to keep and what to discard. The sorts of issues that come into play can be quite emotional as our gardens are so often rich in memories. For example, “That plant is from a cutting that my favourite Aunt’s grandmother gave her just after (insert your own historical event!)”.
Our Gardens are never static even though its rooted in place, constantly changing day by day, season by season and year by year.
So enjoy your garden with all its challenges and changes.
This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © November 12, 2009.