The Well-Established Garden

They say it takes thirteen years to establish a garden. Yes, you read that right. Thirteen years…..

Most people don’t know where they will be in a year, let alone thirteen years. Establishing a garden is one of the greatest of all garden accomplishments. A well-established garden is no longer reliant on human hands to survive….it just does. The groundcovers have grown beautifully under trees, heirloom bulbs have naturalized, the delightful sound of birds can be heard singing in the trees that were planted when the garden first began. The beauty of the native wildflowers and perennials revisit your senses with each new season.

A well-established garden.

Establishing anything takes intention. Take, for instance, a new family tradition. At first, things feel a bit awkward and forced. After a few years, things begin to flow with grace and ease, and soon become a habit. An established garden is much like a tradition.

Establishing a garden is constantly seeking the ultimate goal of a garden that is almost independent of the human hand. I have begun to do a few traditions in my own gardens that will lead the gardens towards the goal of establishment…..composting, intentional weed-pulling and investing in native perennials.

This year, I am being more mindful to compost. The gardens have been dug and the plants are doing well, but the soil is AWFUL!!!! The summertime comes by surprise every year, and I remind myself what I “should’ve” done the previous winter to encourage plant growth and health. It is important to protect and nourish the plants over the harsh winter, but your hard work will really pay dividends in the summer. I have spent a few years working on the compost pile, and the gardens are reaping the sweet rewards of receiving the nutrients. I also have started a worm bin. I am amazed by efficiency of these little fat wigglers. The worm castings are truly like black gold.

Weed-pulling is another important part of establishing a garden. Weeds steal the nutrients from the soil that your cherished plants need. Weeds also use up space for other specimen plants. I am trying to be more conscious to pull weeds every single day. A bucket a day. No procrastinating or excuse-making. It’s an ADD gardening dream! Simply pull weeds anywhere you want, just load up your bucket as you stroll. If the seeds are present, throw the weeds away. If there are no seeds, use the weeds for compost. It’s a good thing to pull the weeds. 🙂

Native plants are probably the most important part of establishing a garden. Native perennials aren’t flashy and flamboyant like a bright pink Penta. Native plants serve an important purpose in your garden. Natives are host or nectar plants for the wild things in your garden. Native plants are also designed for your specific area, and are usually drought hardy. After a few seasons of growth, your Native plants will continue on….unless you have a gopher that moves in for the kill. (Don’t even get me started on the destruction a gopher can do!) Native plants cannot be found at your big-box garden shops. Seek them out at Natural or Organic Garden Shops. Shopping “Mom and Pop” garden shops will cost more, but the plants will be healthier and more interesting. Natives are a great investment for your garden.

As your gardens are established over time, random trees and wild things pop up in your garden. The gardens become a beautiful natural habitat…..establshed. Some folks might say “wild” or “unkept”, but those are just unschooled garden heathens who don’t understand what an established garden truly is. Ha.

Happy Gardening, my friends. Take a break from the Presidential counting nonsense and start establishing those gardens.