Take Risks in Your Garden

Tired of planting impatiens and mums each year? Get risk-taking advice from the Green Thumb.

So you're strolling through your neighborhood garden center with your list in hand of all the plants you need to fill the gaps in your garden. You're ready to buy some flats of your tried-and-true plants, the ones you use every year. Not very exciting, but they work.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, you notice a purple-leaved striated plant labeled Strobilanthes. Wow, you think to yourself. What a knockout. I absolutely love this plant, but I have no idea how to use it and I'm sure it would look ridiculous in my garden. You quickly scurry away and pick up some flats of the old standbys -- marigolds, petunias and impatiens. A nagging feeling gnaws at your insides. If only I had the guts to buy that purple plant, you think to yourself. But instead, you pay your bill and leave.

Has that scenario happened to you in one form or another? Even through my many years of gardening, I have had the No, I can't do it feeling more times than I care to remember. The way you go about gardening is really a metaphor for how you live your life. And as one woman speaking to others, I want to tell each and every one of you to embrace the opportunity that gardening offers: Take some risks.

  • Try at least one type of new garden this year to expand your repertoire: such as perennial, rock, water, vegetable, container or greenhouse.
  • Develop your own likes and dislikes in plant material. Don't let the experts tell you what is best for you.
  • If you utilize annuals, buy new plant combinations this season.
  • Try an outrageous color combination in your garden (even if it's just in a pot) such as: orange and purple or pink and chartreuse green or orange and red -- anything that is out of the ordinary for you.
  • Do purchase at least one exotic plant specimen for your garden as a showstopper this season.
  • If there are certain plants in your garden that you don't like but feel that you can't discard them, get rid of them (and don't feel bad about it)
  • Transplant specimens (at the appropriate time of year) that do not please your eye to an area in your garden where they will please your eye.
  • Do treat yourself to some quality gardening gear and get out and do the hard core weeding yourself.
  • If you have visions of a certain garden that you wish to create but have been too timid to try, create it this gardening season (even if it means hiring a bulldozer and having tons of dirt moved).
  • Follow your own instincts. As the saying goes, you are the master of your own domain. Do what pleases you. Don't second-guess yourself. And don'[t be hard on yourself if the results don't always live up to your expectations.

Think of gardening as an evolving process and as a pathway to getting to know yourself more profoundly. Be proud of your gardening work, be kind to yourself and most importantly -- take those high flying risks!

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