For non gardeners the title of this article “The Joy of a Garden” is a complete mystery, if not a downright contradiction in terms and at best an oxymoron like military intelligence.
Yet, gardening is the most popular hobby and past-time world-wide. It is an activity that provides an almost endless array of things to do for: relaxation, stress relief, fitness, being outdoors, challenge, food, companionship, as well as the sheer joy of seeing something grow.
And there is nothing to limit gardening – for once (?) size doesn’t matter. You can have a garden on a small balcony, in an apartment courtyard, in the usual front and back yard of the standard home – or acres of it if you have the land.
Gardens can be of almost any variety or design that area size and climate will permit. Gardens can be the typical mix of trees, shrubs and annual flowers and bulbs – or just trees, or tropical, or a cottage garden and so on.
Gardens do require work – the amount depends on the type and size. There is really no such thing as a maintenance free garden – even a cemented over front yard will get weeds between the cracks and on the edges!
The key to finding joy in a garden is to have one that suits your lifestyle, plus one that reflects what you like to do in the area of your proposed garden.
Time available is important – there is nothing more guaranteed to turn you off gardening if you have a high maintenance garden and little time to keep it in order and thus the chores become burdensome and resented. In such a case it is better to grass the whole area for the kids to play on and shove in trees for shade. Teach the kids to mow – and hey, presto, no work! Sort of!
If you entertain a lot – then your garden should be adapted to that – and thus your joy in it will be related to the pleasure you derive when you have friends over.
Whatever style of garden you want, it should always take into account:
The above mentioned time you have to commit to it
Climate, soil, environment and ecology
Your tastes and preferences.
Designing a balanced garden (between chores and joy) isn’t hard. If it is DIY or a landscape design from a professional landscape architect, it should always have what you want – not what is merely trendy nor what the landscaper says is best, especially if you don’t like it.
Gardening is about you. If it isn’t then it is merely a chore and no joy. If you like plenty of color and fragrance from flowers and shrubs, or just shade or a lush tropical mass planting – then that is what you should go for – after having found out what maintenance will be needed!
For me, there is nothing better than growing roses and a cottage garden – work intensive at times – but as they are a passion I am prepared to put in the work as part of the joy of gardening and not see it as just another bloody job to do around the house!
Peter Damien Ryan
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