a less than perfect gardener …

What makes a good gardener?  I am a gardener, at least I like to think so -  anyone who sticks anything in the ground is a gardener in my book – but am I a good gardener?

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Does having qualifications make you a good gardener – I hope not, I don’t have any – it is probably necessary if you want to be a professional – but for a domestic garden, no I wouldn’t think so.

Does knowing all the Latin names of plants help to make you a good gardener – I hope not – at one time I probably did know them – but now my memory is not what it was – most days I can’t even remember the common names.

Oh dear – this isn’t going well.

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Okay – what about determination and perseverance – you know the saying “if at first you don’t succeed” etc. but maybe knowing when to say “enough is enough” is almost as important – to keep buying the same plant over and over because you like it, but it doesn’t like you and it keeps dying (Hebes spring to mind) – is maybe not the sign of a good gardener just a persistent/determined one.

Creativity, ingenuity and plant knowledge are needed for garden design and putting a good mix of plants together, but is that what makes a good gardener?  I mostly garden by instinct – you can’t learn everything just from books or internet websites – you have to rely on common sense – you have to love growing things be it flowers, fruit or vegetables – a scientific, by the rules gardener, doesn’t always get the best results – in my view you have to garden with your heart and your head.

Even good gardeners have failures – let’s face it, in the natural world, everything is out to get you – the weather, pests and diseases – so a good gardener has to have a sense of humour above all and keep on trying regardless.

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So, after all this, do I think I am a good gardener?  No – but I am a keen enthusiast who enjoys seeing things grow;  the flower garden full of beauty inviting wild life in, and the veg garden full of  delicious things for me and not the slugs  to eat,  all put together in my own inimitable fashion – a less than perfect gardener who, mostly, loves every minute of it.

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All the above pictures were taken last year.

Do you have any thoughts as to what makes a good gardener?

Comments

  1. I am sure you have in fact I know you have "green fingers " Elaine your pictures are worth a thousand words

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  2. The results are what makes a good gardener and the results in your photos are beautiful :-)

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  3. I'd say you have got it about right Elaine. Your garden is beautiful and I think gardening is trial and error and a bit of luck too, but its nice to learn and you can learn by making mistakes. I dont consider myself a good gardener just a keen amateur.Latin names? I got a GCE in Latin at school and do still just about remember some of the names!

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  4. Beautiful Elaine, the picture of the foxgloves with the opium poppies is gorgeous. Certain is that you are a keen gardener with green fingers.I think a good gardener is one who loves gardening with heart and soul.

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  5. The Good Gardener sounds like the title for a book. Hint hint. You could probably identify several styles of gardening into which most people would fit. The pictures of your garden made me think your plants are loved and cherished. I would call that an excellent way to garden.

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  6. You are certainly an enthusiastic gardener Elaine who produces wonderful fruit and veg as well as an array of beautiful flowers and shrubs. Your stunning photos say it all.

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  7. Good gardener - yes, the photos speak for themselves. Just love seeing your garden shots.

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  8. In my opinion if your garden doesn't die during the gardening year- you are a good gardener.
    There are too many different factors in gardening that affect vegetables and flower growth , making rules and norms that make someone a good gardener is just ridiculous.

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  9. Your garden is amazing...the layers that you have created are so breath taking! I was thinking of this very point as I was driving through different areas by my house. So many gardens with so many different styles. Some would not admire some of the gardens I passed. One had pot after pot of this and that on a very small front plot. And when I looked at it harder I admired it more and more because that persons passion was right there in front of me and that is part of what is beautiful. Great post...I look forward to learning from you this season! Nicole xoxo

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  10. If your garden is anything to go by; you certainly are a 'good' gardener.

    I like to think I'm a good vegetable gardener, but I'm very much a hit-n-miss flower gardener. I think you omitted to mention 'respect for nature', which is also an essential quality.

    Lots of 'decking', weird coloured objects, and 'one day makeovers', do NOT make for good gardening; but I won't mention names!

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  11. Hello Elaine:

    You make mention here of the fact that you garden by instinct and this is something with which we should very much identify. We are great believers that some of the very best gardens, take Sissinghurst and Hidcote as examples, have been made by gifted 'amateurs'.

    Yes, it is good to visit other gardens and to read about gardens and gardening but at the end of the day, in our view, it is hands on experience which counts for the most.

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  12. I very much believe in instinct rather than 'rule' following too. It's always surprising when two people do exactly the same thing and end up with different results.
    Traditional Persian rugs are supposed to include flaws created on purpose as mere mortals do not have the right to create perfection.
    As it is I defy anyone to say any garden is perfect.

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  13. "perfect" looking gardens are rather unattractive in my view, they feel a bit like those living rooms where everything is so beautifully arranged that you fear to sit. A good gardener? One who loves plants and works with nature rather than against? You certainly qualify there! One who knows it all? Not possible. And the combination of variable weather conditions, disease, pests, and "life" mean that all our gardens are destined to have their failures. Maybe a good gardener is one who learns from their mistakes and strives not to repeat them?!

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  14. An interesting post with terrific photos. I would say that you're definitely a good gardener which in my book is much better than being a 'so-called' perfect one.The most important thing surely for any good gardener is to enjoy what they do.
    Oh and me, well I'm just a fun gardener! Flighty xx

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  15. Actually, I think you're something of an artist, painting with plants and petals.

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  16. Accepting that our gardens change and evolve is the hardest thing to learn, and that we need to change and evolve with them. But isn't that the most exciting thing about it? That whatever you do, you always get a chance to make it better next year?

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  17. What a wonderful post, and of course you are a good gardener....just look at those pics....I'm drooling!!!
    I think a love of nature and all her creatures is what's needed as you say, and that's what gets gardens growing. I'm probably the worlds worst gardener, but I have green fingers luckily, everything I stick in the ground grows ....xxx

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  18. I love this post! I have no doubts that you are a very "good gardener!" Your garden is amazing! I do think it has a lot to do with just how much one loves doing it. I love to garden. When I am not gardening, I am dreaming of gardening.

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  19. Your garden looks lovely, so I would say that does you make a good gardener. The perfect gardener doesn't exist! Even experienced gardeners have failures - nature will often surprise. And I agree with others above, who say that gardening with nature (and not against her) is essential.

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  20. The garden looks pretty perfect to me. Just the sort of garden I want here on the Northern Plains of the US whee it is mostly hot and dry with clay soil, but xero scraping just doe not appeal to me. I was amazed when I toured England, Ireland, and Scotland gnat we all do grow pretty much the same plants, only the UK does it with such style, grace, and ease.

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  21. Experience is worth more than anything. Every year brings new knowledge. I count myself as a beginner and I hope that every year I get a bit better and learn a few more things. Theoretical knowledge is good but can't beat hands on work.

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  22. Are these your gardens? And you are asking if you are a good gardener lol anyone who can grow such beauty is for sure.

    Jen

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  23. That garden belongs to a great gardener! Lovely post.

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  24. Anyone willing to learn from their mistakes and apply that knowledge to improving their garden is a good gardener. But you're not giving yourself enough credit. Your garden is beautiful because it's tended by a very good gardener!

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