Spring has Sprung. Simple Gardening Advice.

by deborah on April 18, 2012

in Gardening & Nature, Uncategorized

Spring actually started “springing” back in March. (Sorry it has taken me a  while to get these photos up – which were taken last month.) We had so little “real winter” here in Northern Virginia that Spring didn’t exactly make a grand entrance – it just sort of “occurred” to us one day.  Big entrance or not, I was still glad to see it arrive.  It meant I didn’t have to shuttle my precious houseplants in every night after a day of sunning on the deck.

Up close and personal with one of the vines climbing up over my backyard deck.

Up close and personal with one of the vines climbing up over my backyard deck.

With good reason some people might think I’m a nut case for plants.  But I just can’t help it.  Many of my ancestors were farmers and I think it runs in your blood.  I don’t have too many memories of my Grandma Dora but I do recall her sacred African Violet collection and a large garden out the back of the pastor’s residence where she and Grandpa Bob, a hell-fire Methodist minister, spent their last months. Even with horrible arthritis and a bushelful of other ailments, she was out in the yard skirt hiked up, socks falling down around her ankles, apron spotty from the day’s cooking, tending to peas, carrots, tomatoes, beans and more.  

Debbie and Grandma Dora, Tybee Island

Ever the lady, Grandma Dora was always in a dress - even while gardening. Here she is with me at the beach house at Tybee Island close to Savannah. That is, I THINK she's with me ... could be my cousin Diane!

Or she was inside making sure her babies got just the right amount of African Violet fertilizer-infused water – only on the soil, NEVER on the leaves, which could only be dusted.  The other day, in my sundress out in the yard, tramping around in my too-good-to-be-worn-in-the-yard Clarks loafers, nails as dirty as my apron, I recalled my Mom announcing I was merely the reincarnation of a combination of my two grandmothers, both the good parts and the bad.

But I digress as I always do … a nut case for plants I am.  And I should share some of the relative little knowledge I have about them as it comes to me. So that’s what I’ll try to do going forward.

A little patch of Gardening pleasure next to the driveway.

A little patch of Gardening pleasure next to the driveway.

Gardening is great. Indoors or out it is a stress reliever and an opportunity for creative expression via the forces of nature.  And, yes, it qualifies as romantic.  Can anyone disagree with me that flowers,

Don't overplay your venture into gardening if you are new to it. Just get started.

Don't overplan your venture into gardening if you are new to it. Just get started.

or a home filled with lush greenery, or a dish of vegetables or fruit fresh from one’s own property are romantic?  Hah!  Didn’t think so.

Here’s the start of my tidbits of advice involving gardening and nature in general:

1.) The first thing is don’t over think it or make a big deal out of getting started. Gardening and houseplant keeping should be enjoyable.  Don’t think that you can’t get started without a big investment of time and funds.  Start small with a few plants or a small patch in the yard. Or try growing a few vegetables in pots on your deck or patio – even out your front door. Just get started.

2.) Do realize that successful indoor or outdoor gardening does involve some level of SIMPLE commitment. You MUST keep everything hydrated. (Don’t  murderer your plants by forgetting to water them when they need it.)  You MUST bring in potted plants from frosty evenings or a cold snap.

Deborah Deal-Blackwell's flowering vine on back deck.

With no temperatures low enough to kill back some species, it's like we never had winter - at least not for this beauty on my deck.

3.) Aside from just getting started on a small scale and not inadvertently killing your green friends, the key is to be willing to take a few risks. Sure, read up on a specific plant’s preferences or just read the tag that comes with it.  But if nothing else, just try things.  For example, for reasons I won’t go into, i did not get my tulip bulbs planted in the Fall like a normal person would.  In fact, I did not get them planted until January!  But you know what?  All 250 of the new ones, plus a good number of old bulbs from previous seasons came up anyway!  Beautiful color burst forth regardless of my “planting block.”  

And that’s the beauty of gardening – in addition to the obvious beauty of the plants themselves.  It’s the surprise.  Will it work? Will the seeds sprout?  Can you get those tomatoes from little seeds to a proud place in a salad for your friends and family?  Will those roses bloom, and will they do it more than once this season?

Great fun. Great satisfaction. Ah, gardening. Yes, Spring has sprung … hooray!

I didn't get my tulips planted for this Spring until January! But they came up anyway. Sometimes Mother Nature is very forgiving.


{ 1 comment }

Diane King April 25, 2012 at 1:45 PM

You DID inherit traits from both grandmothers, and they were GOOD ones. You have a gorgeous garden and a real talent for arranging it so that it looks lush and full. I tend to plant little spots of stuff that look like polka dots in my yard. By the way, grandma always wore my old saddle oxfords with holes cut out of the toes when she worked in the garden. She always planted strawberries, too, as well as the veggies. Her violets were glorious, though. She could make 10 new violets out of one leaf that had broken off. She was an amazing gardener.
PS That is me with her at Tybee.

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