The same people who hire garden coaches or designers and then hate them for not performing miracles probably also write letters like this (New York Times, 1/10/08) :
Q. I’ve gardened for many years on a Manhattan rooftop and have never bought a perennial. Can you recommend any that would survive winters in 16-inch pots, wouldn’t become pot-bound, have a long flowering season and need no care beyond watering and fertilizing (for example, deadheading)?
A. Why not go for broke and ask that they also play the “Ode to Joy” every morning?
Of course, after her initial snappy retort (and who could blame her) the Times columnist goes to answer the question very nicely, but whether this letter is for real or not, I know a lot of would-be garden owners who will never realize that the domestic landscape of their dreams isn’t going to happen without their participation. Even those wealthy enough to contract everything out often end up changing all of it on a regular basic. It’s never looks quite right. My garden doesn’t look right either, but I think I tend to be more satisfied because I am seeing a visible result of my efforts. That makes it easier to turn a blind eye to the unsatisfactory parts.
Imagine a letter like this:
Q. I’d like to lose 20 lbs. However, I’d much rather not diet, and don’t have time to exercise. Please advise.
A. Huh? Call me when the drugs wear off.
Most domestic endeavors—be they gourmet cooking, home renovation, or car repair—can’t be mastered without effort and some research. Why should having a nice garden—whatever your definition of that—be different? I go along with the sensible advice offered by Linda Brazill in Madison’s Capitol Times today:
Ultimately you learn best by doing something yourself. Mistakes and failures are part of that process and one of the ways you learn. Gardening, like many arts, is about the process, not the product. Sure, we all have a dream garden that we’re trying to create, but I’ve found that it’s the time spent working in the garden that is most satisfying. It’s the experience one remembers, not the expectations.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance garden, consider a different avocation. It’s the maintenance—the weeding, watering and working with the plants—that gardening is all about. If someone else does the designing, planting and all the work to keep it looking good, it’s still a garden—just not your garden.
My thoughts exactly.