What makes a gardener?

Carol over at May Dreams Gardens isn’t just hosting monthly meetings of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club, she’s now out there asking all kinds of provocative questions to the garden blogging community. So much for hibernating…it’s time to pony up some answers!

Earlier this month, she asked for people’s takes on what makes a gardener, and whether we consider ourselves to be one.

Oh, Carol. Such a can of worms you open…of course, from what I can tell, worms are a good thing in the gardening world!

I consider this question more often than a lot of people might think. I get questions from people looking for gardening information in my comments, but get additional questions by email. To those who email me with questions about gardening, let me say this: when you ask me a question, I Google the answer. This qualifies me to work in certain local garden centers, but doesn’t make me any more in control of a wide body of gardening knowledge than you are.

That being said, sure, I definitely consider myself a gardener. I put things in the ground (often after strong urging by Steve), and watch them get taller. Then I take their progeny and eat them.

What I have not yet gotten into as much as many of my more-experienced gardener friends is the yen for planting and maintaining perennial flowers. I have gotten to a point where I appreciate the work and the design that goes into a beautiful garden on any side of a house, but when I look at the flowers, I’m still a little exhausted by the sheer magnitude of the possibilities. What grows in shade? In sun? What zone do I live in? Is global warming putting me in another zone? I have no idea, and when I go try to research that stuff, I pull up short, retreat to what I learned in this year’s experience:

Plants are really interesting. So are the bugs that come with them. And if they’re vegetable plants, I get flowers AND food. It’s a pretty cool thing.

So maybe I’m not a good gardener, and definitely not one with a breadth of knowledge worth writing home about. But I grow things, and I like it. I think that’s enough to get me in the club.

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8 Responses to “What makes a gardener?”


  1. 1 Dori January 16, 2007 at 5:05 am

    Good response. I have found the same thing in that since I have a garden some people think there is some sort of grand body of knowledge that I contain.

  2. 2 Marc January 16, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Great points! Sometimes the best gardender is the best observer. There is so much more going on in the garden than just plant, grow and harvest. I think gardening can be one of those subjects where the more you know, the more you know there is more to know. I really like your blog. Keep it it and happy gardening!

  3. 3 Carol January 16, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Genie, you are definitely in the club, and you’ve figured out a secret to gardening, which is to just dig in, grow it, and learn along the way. You can’t learn all about gardening from books or websites and then go out and do it. You just garden.

    I’m collecting the links to everyone who posts about being a gardener and will put them all in a post in a week or so.

    In the meantime, I hope you are reading about soil or compost for the book club.

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener January 16, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Dori, ah, but you do have such a large body of knowledge about so much! Glad you share it via your blog.

    Marc, thanks for the kind comments — I enjoy the observation of it, most definitely.

    Carol, thanks for the vote of confidence! I’m still waiting for the library to get my book in, but hopefully I’ll be able to start in on it soon. Thanks for the little nudge in that direction!

  5. 5 Shane Marie January 17, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Well said! Master Gardener programs turn out gurus, those at whose feet I sit, to sort it all out; it’s chemistry, biology, etymology; it’s complex, delicate and daunting. But it’s also really simple: dig a hole, put someting in, wait, watch and nurture, then marvel.

    Thanks for your blog–I am really enjoying it!

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener January 17, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Shane Marie, thanks for the visit and the kind words. And I wholeheartedly agree — there’s the science of it, and then there’s the miracle.

  7. 7 Gail Hoyos February 2, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    I have enjoyed your blog. Please take a look at mine about gardening

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener February 4, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for stopping by, Gail — I appreciate the visit! I just stopped by your blog, as well — that’s an excellent look at getting seeds started, something that I really should be thinking about…


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