There may come a time when you read something, or something is said, that causes you to question your decisions about what you are growing in your garden. I want to share with you my experience that caused me to question the decision I had made.
Grow Plants That Inspire You
Many years ago, a lady lived in a house across the street from mine. From her vantage, she was able to see into my backyard, where there were several large flower beds.
One day when I was busy in the front yard, she stopped by and expressed how much she enjoyed her view of the flowers in the back yard and was particularly curious about a tall plant with yellow flowers on it that she said was so pretty. As she continued to talk, she moved towards the backyard, indicating her obvious intent to get a closer look at the bushy beauty.
When she arrived at the plant, she bent over to get a closer look at the flowers. “It’s a weed!” she exclaimed in disgust. With a swooping turn, she stomped off back towards her house, mumbling about wasting time and growing weeds.
The plant she saw was Rudbeckia triloba, or Brown-Eyed Susan. It is a native perennial that grows throughout the Central United States, often seen in open fields or along roadsides.
My neighbor’s reaction had me questioning my decision to grow this plant in my garden. Truth is, I probably did pull over to the side of the road to gather the original seeds from a lone plant. Does that make it a “weed”? Do I cheapen my gardens by growing “weeds” amongst the “proper” perennials? Is there a gardening Standard of Etiquette I have broken?
I looked speculatively at my Brown-Eyed Susan and realized that the plant was not the problem. The problem was that I had allowed someone else to make me question my decision about what I chose to grow in my garden.
We all know there are differing views, whether it’s what you are wearing or the style of faucets you chose for the bathroom. Your garden is no different. There are some who have set ideas about what qualifies as a proper garden plant and what does not.
I reminisced how my Brown-Eyed Susan had inspired me over the years. An upright plant of adorable small flowers that proudly displayed a stately mass of yellow. In the spring, its many seedlings provided new locations to grow the prolific plant. In the spring, its many seedlings taught me I better deadhead sooner in the fall!
Brown-Eyed Susan inspired me to try new techniques for trimming and staking a brittle-branched plant. It taught me the telltale signs of the stalk borer. It provided sustenance for countless butterflies and bees. It showed the amazing resiliency of a plant to survive extreme weather conditions with ease.
Had I chosen not to grow this plant because of someone else’s opinion, these years of inspiration, knowledge and pleasure would have never existed. Thank goodness I chose to grow Brown-Eyed Susan in my garden.
“The only difference between a flower and a weed is judgement.”
Grow Colors That Inspire You
I read a book written by a Master Gardener whose expertise is highly respected. She wrote of the color combination of pink Phlox and orange Tiger Lilies as a terrible color combination. The shade of pink phlox she was referring to was not described in detail. While her opinion is worthy of respect, it should not be considered a rule that guides your decision if you feel differently.
I love the energetic playful combination of pink and orange together and use it freely. One year I decided to fill a bed in the front of the house with hot pink and orange impatiens. They encircled a tall upright arborvitae so could be seen from any angle.
There were compliments from passing neighbors on how nice it looked. And I’m sure a few didn’t feel it was a great combination, which is okay too. That year I really enjoyed coming home each night and seeing those glowing impatiens at the front of the house.
Grow what you love to be around and experience. If you see a plant you like, research it, learn about how it grows, and listen to what others have to say. Then make the decision you feel is best for you.
There are only basic guidelines for gardening, there are no rules. Gardening is an ongoing cycle of experiences and possibilities that create a lifetime of fulfillment. And you might pick up a few life lessons along the way too, as I did.
I hope my stories empower you in your flower garden as well as your garden of life. Follow your heart and grow what inspires you.