You don’t have to garden to garden.

What gardener hasn’t dreamt of the possibilities of a new garden and lost themselves for hours in catalogues for bulbs, seeds or roses? Imagination can run amuck with ideas of glorious garden vistas, the beautiful colours and colour schemes. One can spend hours planning and researching trees, shrubs, roses, grasses and perennials. This is gardening, too, the creative side where the activity holds you in its grip until you have made all the decisions and embarked on a plan. Time is well spent, and in one’s mind’s eye, it is so tangible that the fragrance is almost in the envisioned garden’s breeze.

Gardening in the mind is a gentle vice with an impetus of its own

Mirabel Osler
Dream outdoor living space Chic and Antique Photo

It is an enticing and inspiring pastime, especially in winter to ruminate and think about what one could do in the garden given the energy, time, and necessary expense. Returning to reality, It doesn’t matter where one lives, we can grow a garden with whatever we have.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Human nature shows us we often want what we do not have. If we have a small garden on a balcony in the city, we may dream of a larger penthouse garden with expansive views, or if we live on a suburban block, a rural garden must appear to be so alluring with ample space to be creative with tree planting or large vegetable gardens. A hot, dry climate may bring thoughts of coastal plants like frangipani and hibiscus.

Dream for my front door

Our minds can entertain extravagant thoughts on how to create a garden of our dreams. Garden experts make it all seem so easy and achievable. I can spend many hours with gardens, landscapes, and design books, but reality does sneak back in before we actually get to work. And we settle for a more realistic option although, one hopes to hold on to some of the best most brilliant ideas.

Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can.

Athur Ashe

No matter how vast or small, how elaborate or simple, quirky or plain the garden we grow is ours. Whether we desire a landscaped pool deck or cosy outdoor retreat in a suburban back yard or a bushland setting by a river. Perhaps we hanker for a formal, manicured garden on a larger estate or want a fantastic front yard with kerb appeal. We may love a few pots of basil and rosemary around the back door, or wish to hide a hideous structure or need greenery around a newly built home.

Photo by Nico Wijaya on Unsplash

Whatever abstract ideas the garden dream entails, the garden is yours to do as you wish. It is the one area of life where there are no rules, maybe some may think so, but you don’t have to follow them. There will always be community pressure to conform, peer pressure to enjoy the good life and only plant vegetables or whatever is the current trend. Be it topiary, hedges, rooftop gardens, firepits, eco gardens, vertical gardens, professionally landscaped gardens, succulents, outdoor garden rooms and indoor plants that tell their own story. In past decades the dream gardens included rock gardens, crazy paving, green gardening, oriental gardens, love of lawns and native gardens to name only a few.

Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are. 

Alfred Austin

Gardens range as diversely as the brightly coloured, painted, old tomato tins potted with geraniums and the terracotta pots of garish begonias in Italy’s hilltop towns to beautifully landscaped gardens in English estates and castles. From the grace and charm of cottage gardens to Australian natives, a small urban plot on a balcony or perhaps a French Potager herb garden.

Di Baker Image Spanish Garden

“Find out what you can grow well, and grow lots of it.”

Lord Abercrombie 1969

Australians love the back yard and the relaxed extension of the home into outdoor living spaces complete with sophisticated alfresco kitchens and BBQs. The family back yard so inspired and creatively developed over recent years with help from popular home renovation TV shows. The expansive rural garden that surrounds the country homestead, paddocks and sheds or the local community garden. Or even a window box or a unique garden in an old boat or car, a succulent garden or vertical walled garden. All of our gardens are what we make them and reflect who we are.

Gardens in Venice Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

“Although it appears to be a simple space for recreational or social purposes, the garden contains within itself the means to fulfil the profound need of the human soul to create a paradise on earth”

 Helder Carita

As the quote above states there is a definite need within us to make contact with the earth, to feel the dirt on our hands, to plant and grow things. Sir Francis Bacon, once described gardening to be

” the purest of human pleasures”

Photo by Kyle Ellefson on Unsplash

I would agree with him and will continue to press my hands into the earth, enjoy the sun on my back on cold mornings, whilst I attempt to nurture the plants in the garden. All the while my mind will be wildly planning new expansions, dreaming up all manner of plant combinations and ways to grows things. My potted roses will be watched closely for colour pairing and design ideas and moved accordingly. In the garden if any rose is not doing well it will be moved from one place to another in the hope it will be happier in the new position. It works like magic I have found. This is gardening.

Header Image Unsplash Diane Helentjaris

Content and images by Di Baker 2019 All Rights Reserved

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