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June 2015

The Magic Of Gardening

Gardening is great, and we learn to appreciate not only outstanding gardens when we visit one but also the gardener, who is putting a lot of time and energy into his garden. We are so accustomed to the fact that some people enjoy working in their gardens that we often forget that this is not something that is forced upon them, gardening is an acquired hobby, it takes time and a lot of learning to get to being a gardener and it is not a thing that can be achieved in a short time.

Let us leave aside for a moment the classic gardener that we know and think of, that middle aged, sometimes even older, man or woman that spends a lot of his or her time in the garden manicuring every leaf on every flower and examining the roots of every tree, these are the people who have made their decision about gardening a long time ago.

What makes a gardener, what are the deciding moments for a gardener and how does it start. Most will say that it starts simply by having a garden or a backyard, since most gardeners own a garden they can take care of and it is usually located in their own property, although there are some amateur gardeners that take care of a garden that is not located on their property – most gardeners do own their garden.

The passion for gardening is universal, you will find dedicated gardeners on every spot in the world, and in almost every possible climate, there is someone that is waiting for spring to arrive so he could start planning his garden. The other thing about gardens are that they need careful planning, and it is no wonder that when you meet an experienced gardener and ask what is the firs thing you need to do, the answer will most probably be to plan your garden and make sure you understand what you want to have in it before you start making it so, this way you will guarantee that you can deal with all the potential difficulties that await a beginner.

The amateur gardener will most probably need the basic working tools, a pair or tow of working gloves and a few good books about the flowers and plants that are the ones that are popular in that area, the reason for this modest beginning is very simple, if you start building your own garden you will want to start and enjoy it as soon as you can, and since it is almost certain that you have a lot of work ahead of you, it is only sensible to try and shorten the waiting period as much as possible.

Depending on the size of the garden that you intend to develop it is important that you start working on a relatively small part, making it your testing ground, whatever you will find that works on that part you can then apply to all the other parts of the garden and you will also have the knowledge of how much effort and time it will take. Developing your own garden will than start, and it will probably last you for the rest of your life. Gardening is more than just a hobby.

Gardening For Personal Growth

One of the hottest jobs to emerge during the past few years is coaching, already a booming business before the economic downturn. Recently, the recession has been driving the market toward personal and career coaching, but the newest big idea to hit this type of paid mentoring is meaning coaching. Because meaning originates from inside ourselves, not from the outside world, the ability to construct a meaningful life depends upon our capacity and willingness to take positive actions to incorporate into our lives those aspects of life that we personally value, including gardening.

By connecting the transformational power of gardening to the choices that gardeners make, a gardener-centric coach can help them create personal spaces that are not only beautiful and healthy, but also provide a sanctuary from the world that speaks to their souls.

Making our own meaning encompasses the thought, energy, emotion, time, money, and commitment we’re willing to expend in the service of bringing our own dreams into reality. In the context of gardening, this means tuning in to why we feel our view of gardening is important and asserting that to be a sufficient reason to garden in our own way.

For example, one gardener gave herself no credit for the multitude of gardening decisions she had made over the course of 30 years. After a tour of the garden and some discussion with a gardener coach, her view of her garden and her place within it had completely changed, in half an hour. Within three months, her ability to stick to her own priorities skyrocketed.

Similarly, a person who cares deeply about the impact of chemicals on groundwater will not be comfortable having a lawn service spray pesticides on a regular schedule, if at all. A vegan who is growing her own vegetables will want to know the exact source and composition of any compost she uses.

Gardener coaching is different from garden coaching

Garden coaches made a big splash when they came on the scene about five years ago. They’ve been covered by The New York Times and other national newspapers, and radio and television networks. Garden coaching concentrates on horticultural knowledge and the mechanical skills of growing plants.

Gardener coaching focuses instead on the personal growth of gardeners in order to help them reach a mental space that allows them to develop an intimate, holistic relationship with their land. Through a series of personalized assignments and exercises gardeners can learn how to rediscover and focus on the things that really matter to them about their gardens, restore meaning to their gardening efforts, and revitalize a cherished pastime.

Garden coaching is by its nature local, so that the coach can physically go to the garden. But a gardener coach can work with anyone anywhere in the world. All clients need is a mode of communication and some pictures of their garden. Computers and digital cameras make it all very easy.

Medical practitioners and landscape designers have been dancing around the link between plants and people for decades. Research shows that having hospital rooms that face a garden quickens patient recovery, so hospitals construct them that way because it works. But such patients are passive onlookers; not participants. Instead, hospitals need to open an avenue through which patients, staff, and visitors can interact with the garden on terms that are meaningful to them. This is somewhat different from horticultural therapy programs in which gardening is used as the means to accomplish specific physical or mental therapy goals.

Similarly, landscape designers understand that some people experience a spiritual boost in gardens that are intended to evoke a certain mood. Gardeners will react to the design in their own distinctive ways. But not every gardener will have a similar reaction to a specific design, because ‘spiritual’ means different things to different people.

The secret to opening this path to everyone is to approach it by involving people in an intimate and meaningful way from the very beginning.

When can gardener-centric coaching help?T

here are different milestones in gardeners’ lives when gardener-focused coaching can breathe new life into an established hobby, regardless of the gardener’s level of expertise:

  • To bring another perspective to experienced gardeners who have gotten stuck in their progress.
  • When gardeners want to learn how to better express their own creativity and personality through gardening.
  • To build confidence in shaping the direction taken by professionals they employ.
  • When they want someone who will hold them accountable for working towards their goals on a regular basis.
  • For assistance in figuring out themes, periods, styles, etc., that match the gardener’s personality and values.
  • To inject new vitality when gardening starts to feel dull and uninteresting, and
  • For novice gardeners who often don’t know where to start.

We all want to believe we can do things on our own, but it’s a whole lot easier when someone else takes us out of our normal mental and physical space and helps us see with new eyes.

Lois is a regional field editor and location scout for Better Homes and Gardens, Special Interest Media, a garden writer, and a gardener-centric meaning coach who enjoys visiting other people’s gardens, as well as working in her own. Lois’ articles have appeared in Nature’s Garden, Garden Rooms, Garden, Deck and Landscape, Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living, Horticulture, and Do It Yourself magazines. She was a contributing editor to Decorating Solutions for four years and her articles have also appeared in trade, in-house corporate, specialty news, and professional publications. Lois is a member of Garden Writers of America.

While executive director of The Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council, she launched the council’s countywide Town & Country Garden Tour and wrote a local newspaper column, Culturally Conscious. She served on her local environmental commission for nine years, on the planning board for four years, and on the open space committee for three. Through her work, she advocates gardening and land management practices that reconnect people to the Earth.

Using Garden Decor For a Complete Garden

For many people, the garden is an extension of the home; a living area to be beautified just as they would want to decorate the interior of their house. Much of the beauty, both in their eyes and those of the passer-by and visitor, comes from the garden layout, the plants and flowers, the trees, the terraces, and the lawns. Such beauty can be brought to life by the birds and butterflies that visit the garden. It can also be further enhanced by the choice and use of garden decor.

Types of Garden Decor

There are many types of garden decor that you can consider when designing or improving your garden. The use of the word ‘decor’ is traditionally used for the decoration of a house interior, incorporating everything from the furniture to the paint on the wall, and the fabrics used for curtains and bedding. There is no reason that a garden, an extension of the home living space, should not also be considered in the same way.

You could argue that all the flowers and plants in a garden are decor; in fact, I would not even argue. You are trying to create a beautiful entity in which you can spend leisure time, and which gives aesthetic pleasure as you look out of your window, relax in the summer sunshine, or arrive home from a concrete jungle on a summer’s evening.

However, for the purposes of this article, we will consider garden decor as the decoration added to the garden plants, shrubs and flowers for both functional and aesthetic reasons. Once that is done, then garden decor falls into a number of popular types or themes, and all are worth considering.

Fountains and Waterfalls

The use of water in a garden with no natural water feature can greatly enhance it. Most people appreciate both the sight and sound of water, and it is definitely an aid to relaxation. I know I am not the only person in the world who finds it relaxing sitting or strolling by water.

Artificial garden fountains and waterfalls can make an impressive difference to your garden, either as standalone features or as part of a larger water garden and are well worth considering to help turn your garden into a complete outdoor haven.

Garden Statues and Ornaments

With a long historical background, statues have stood the test of time as a popular decor item. While classic statues may have been on a grand scale, and for public sites or stately homes and country mansions, they have found their own niche as garden decor in the modern and smaller garden.

Garden statues come in many styles and designs, some of them following ancient and classical traditions, such as cherubs and angels. Other popular subjects include animals, such as domestic cats and dogs, and wild animals such as lions and frogs.

Small statues, which some may call garden ornaments, can also be found for those of us with small gardens, and no scope for the great sculptures you may see in large country gardens.

Garden Containers or Planters

An important feature of any garden, especially those with patios, terraces or little visible soil, can be the containers or planters used to house some of your plants. Container gardening is a type of gardening in its own right, and you will find many books on the subject to choose the best plants to grow in a confined planter.

When it comes to the planters themselves, then you will find, as with statues, a wide range of designs, made from a choice of materials. There are attractive containers in concrete, fibrestone, fibreglass and plastic; if you like the reddy colour of terracota, then that can be used successfully in a formal or informal garden.

Planters, used carefully, can add height and shape to areas of the garden that may seem barren, and they can certainly bring a terrace or patio to life.

Other Garden Decor Possibilities

Really, there is no end to the possibilities of what you can use to decorate the garden. For particular holidays, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day, you may find ornaments and decorations to hang outside or stick in the ground. Then there are other types of decor that may be multi-purpose, with a functional or decorative use. Examples of these are decorative bird houses or garden lighting.

Allow your imagination some leeway as you design your garden, observe from visiting public gardens, plus what you see online, in magazines and around you, and I am sure you can come up with a unique mixture of garden decor and plantings that will be the envy of your friends and neighbours, and give you pleasure as long as you live there.