I’m Gardening With Purpose Now

By Nikki Tilley | April 9, 2022
Image by BarbraFord
by Nikki Tilley
April 9, 2022

Gardening isn’t a one size fits all activity. It fits each of us differently. We all have our own preferences in what to grow and how to grow it. For me, it’s always been a little of everything haphazardly thrown together in the garden. As the years have passed, however, I find that changing just a bit.

The Changing Garden

I used to grow stuff haphazardly. I never questioned hardiness zones or soil conditions. I just planted what I wanted where I wanted and it either grew or it didn’t. Of course, I was always excited when it did. But there have been many times when a vegetable or flower died due to this negligence.

Eventually, I learned what certain plants need to flourish and which zones they prefer, oftentimes the hard way. I found more success in the garden, but that’s not to say I didn’t still lose my share of plants. Heck, I still do and I’ve been at it now for nearly thirty years! What I’ve discovered along this gardening journey of mine is that focusing more on specific plant needs and their functionality, rather than just growing pretty plants, usually provides better results. 

Gardening With A Purpose

Instead of growing this and this and that one too, without any plan in mind, I’ve since learned to focus more on gardening with purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I still grow this and this and that, but now they’re well suited for my area as well as each other. And they all have specific functions – veggies for food; herbs for cooking or medicinal purposes; and ornamental flowers, shrubs and trees that serve double duty in helping birds and wildlife. No more haphazard planting of years past.

Yet, at the same time some of that focus changes too. For example, when my focus was on annual flowers that could be changed out easily from year to year, I grew tired of replanting and discovered the beauty of perennials. Flowers I’ve grown somewhat attached to over the years and always keep in the garden include various types of irises and daylilies. And then there are certain plants and flowers that weren’t my favorite that have somehow “grown” on me. For instance, I never used to care much about lilies before. It wasn’t so much about their looks; I just didn’t grow them. And then one day I did! Now lilies are one of my favorite flowers in the garden. There’s so many to choose from and they’re easy to grow basically anywhere. Chickweed used to be the bane of my existence until I discovered the plant can be useful and is edible. Now instead of killing myself trying to get rid of this weed, I leave it alone to do its thing. It actually makes an attractive living mulch, provides sustenance to many birds and bunnies, and makes a nice addition to my salads. Win-win! 

My thoughts about gardening have changed a lot from when I first started. I imagine as the years continue to pass the garden will keep changing too. For now, though. I will enjoy gardening with purpose.

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  • Sylvia Candler
    Comment added April 9, 2022Reply

    My biggest challenge has been moving from zone 9 then to zone 10 then to zone 7. Gardening requirements and plants from each area are drastically different in Southern CA and Phoenix AZ, now throw in Greenville SC and my whole encyclopedia of gardening knowledge has been thrown out the window. What were my favorite plants are no longer possible to grow due to freezing winters and all this humidity. Some can be grown as houseplants but there is a limit to that too. Life changes and we must adapt to life with our gardening skills or give it up entirely. I'm not ready to give up gardening, it means too much to me. Gardening soothes my soul and clears my mind. There may be a few dead plants along the way but it is the price of my personal growth in the garden. I can always try a different kind of plant and perhaps have a better outcome and learn something new. Life is a journey, one plant at a time.

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