“Before you knew how to ride a bicycle, you didn’t know how to ride a bicycle.” This saying has always helped me to do things I have been meaning to do but for some reason just didn’t. Very often that reason was a fear of failing. If that is what is holding you back, just determine right now to leave those thoughts behind. Everyone has to start somewhere and as Maria sang in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”
First things first.
Got a handy notebook? Get a pretty one; spiral bound is a good choice especially if it has a ‘my notebook kind of look’ and a cover in your favourite colour, but whatever type you choose; get a notebook now. Of course you could and will use your computer, a diary; index cards, a good memory and/or even scraps of paper kept in a shoebox, but your own gardening notebook is the best idea by far. When I go to the garden centre, I refer to my notebook all the time.
Second things second.
Often we are easily discouraged or disappointed with our sometimes slow progress, but often too it’s because we jumped in too fast, bought a pretty pot, some soil and a few plants the nurseryman suggested and then we get cross with ourselves when things don’t work out like you see in the magazines, picture books and catalogues. Stop right there; set aside some time and start to think … What is it that you want your container garden to do?
Do this quick self-survey. Make notes, doodle, draw pictures or get a storyboard going. There are no right or wrong answers, just some questions and comments and note-making to get you thinking about who you are; how much time you have on hand and what you want to do. It’s also a good refresher for realigning your gardening goals too besides it may make some suggestions to get you started again if for any reason you’ve stalled.
• Why do you want a container garden? Small space? Low maintenance? No time? Entrance enhancement? Feature patches in a larger garden? For Fruit and Vegetables? Herbs? Specimen plants like Roses and Orchids? Want to plant a tree? Write your thoughts down in your notebook.
• Have you been a gardener for long? Have you done the work yourself or have you had garden assistance? Used a gardening service? Just starting out on your own with limited resources? Had no inclination or need before now? Write down your thoughts. Writing gives your thinking a reality you need, it works for others and it will work for you too.
• What do you know about water features? Hard landscaping? Garden pests? Plant names? Seasonal planting? Vegetables? Herbs? Zoning? Answer the questions or rate yourself out of 10. Doesn’t matter if you don’t pass. You don't have to, this is not a test. What does matter is that you think about your aims and intentions.
• Do you have all the tools you need to do the jobs you want to do in your container garden? Do you have a garden budget? Do you have a potting bench? Do you need a potting bench? Start off small the rest will fall into place as your garden grows along with your vision and success.
• Have you thought about your personal style? Are you a formal neat straight-edged kind of person? A round-and-about sort of person? An anything-goes someone who just likes to see things grow and look pretty? A gardener with experience who knows what you want but could do with some new and modern ideas? A combination gardener of all-or-none of the above? Give free reign, be yourself as they say, everyone else is taken!
• In your notebook, write down your wish list of everything you want to accomplish with your container garden. Your list may include taking stock of what you have done so far; a need for lots of flowers; only got space for a vegetable patch; my patio is big enough for some fruit trees; want to be creative; pretty-up my home; to decorate the pool area; developing a scented garden…write and write and write. Don’t let your wish list end. Be greedy with your thoughts, things will fall into place for you.
When you have done all that please join me on a Container Gardening adventure that will get you right where you want to go; at your own pace; doing what you want to do when you’re ready to do it. As the weeks fly by, you will see remarkable changes and improvements in your space; we will answer your questions, give ideas galore and cover many topics.
So. Imagine your prettiest container, contain your enthusiasm immediately, grab some get-up-and-go and let’s get to it.