What kind of gardener are you?

Rather than asking what kind of garden you want, I think it’s important to figure out first what kind of gardener you are

This isn’t one of those tests about how many hours you have to spend in the garden, if you have pets, kids, like to water, entertain, and so on. Rather than asking what kind of garden you want, I think it’s important to figure out first what kind of gardener you are.

I’ll start with a personal story. I adore potentialities, which in gardening terms mean seeds, seedlings and growing things quickly and intensely. I have a greenhouse now to cater to this predilection, and it was a greenhouse where I first felt at peace at 20, when I was hired by a herbalist to propagate plants. I  puttered in the silence and became enraptured by small things – the miraculous rooting of cuttings, the emergence of true leaves, the beginnings of growth.

I’ve learned that I like rotation, change, harvests, and I live in climate that suits this: I can sow almost every month of the year. I’m a successionist you could say, a bit of a farmer at heart.

So what kind of gardener are you? For the sake of entertainment if not edification, let me characterize a few types:

The Cottage Gardener: When self-sown doesn’t mean you actually sowed it yourself, it’s good year. Surprise, abundance, perennials, colour – you can’t get enough (though you’ve been meaning to get more shrubs, right?). You view gardening as a process and are working on year-round colour. You’ve got a pair of gardening clogs by the back door. The words ‘trug’ and ‘dibbler’ have passed your lips.

The Designer: You’re good with form, abstraction and spatial relationships. Perhaps you play an instrument, draw or have a love of history. You believe that interior design should be reflected in the garden. Esthetics inspire you. You’d choose to read a coffee table book over a seed catalogue. Your secret fear: using colour.

The Collector: You can’t turn an interesting plant down. If it was the 19th century, you’d have signed on to a botanical expedition. You appease yourself with collecting varieties of one genus or add to your stock by swapping with friends. No specialist catalogue is safe from browsing and you are desperately trying to drive by nurseries because every time you step in one you leave with fabulous new plants. Your mantra (hoping this incantation will magically transform you into a designer): Plant in threes, fives or sevens.

The Brown Thumb: You spend an inordinate amount of time weeding. You under-plant and under-hire, wondering why, when you buy so many bloody plants, you still have so many gaps in your beds. You don’t research as you know you should, or tend to your soil, but when pressed you do care, you really do; your garden is a problem to be solved. Your downfall: Buying ill-adapted, discount plants at Costco.

The Ecologist: A rare species of gardener, you derive pleasure from an understanding of natural systems and your commitment to native plants. Patience, attention to detail, and integrity fuel your conviction. Birds help too. You don’t hear these words often enough so I’ll say them here: Thank you.

The Perfectionist: Let’s take stock of the arsenal first: Leaf-blower, check. Mini-rake, check. Weed-killers, maybe. Not afraid to buy annuals en masse for instant colour, the Perfectionist doesn’t mind repetition, and is quick to fill in space. You’re practical, and see hardscaping as an integral part of your garden. Your mantra: Fail to plan, plan to fail.

I think most of us have a bit of all of these gardeners within us. I over-commit and under-perform just as much as the next person, and I also fall prey to hope, under-hiring and collecting. Perfectionism I sorely lack.

Thinking about the kind of gardener you are can help you play to your strengths and turn your shortcomings into assets.  Gardens are living things and they should grow and change as we do. So I should revise my question: What kind of gardener do you want to become?

Christin Geall teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Victoria and is an avid gardener.

 

Just Posted

Celebrate 50 years of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and the Apollo 11 moonlanding

‘Ground control to Major Tom’ the countdown is on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Over 200 lives saved in first year at Victoria’s supervised consumption site

The Harbour celebrates its first anniversary with a report of zero deaths on site

Views, brews and food on Gulf Islands craft beer cruise

Five day cruise from Sidney to Gulf Islands, includes chef and beer historian

Saanich Mayor says ‘no costs asked of municipality’ for proposed film studio

Mayor Fred Haynes made that comment after questions from watchdog group

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Rare white ravens spotted again in mid-Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

Most Read