Grumpy Old Gardener

Mostly, I smile around plants. But sometimes it all falls apart when someone ignores the care of a baby plant.

I love gardens.  Little can make me happier than building a beautiful new space.   I am so lucky and grateful that I have had the opportunity to do what I love most and be supported by my customers so I can keep bringing the perennial flowers, trees, conifers, grasses, annuals, pottery and more to our community. 

So what makes a grumpy old gardener?   “Old” sort of took care of itself over time.   “Gardener” was a title that has taken decades to earn.  You have to make a lot of mistakes to get to be an expert at anything.  But “Grumpy” is different.  What can make a guy who loves gardening and building gardens turn grumpy?  

These plants are getting installed the same day they leave the care of the nursery. A happy life ahead for all of them.

The quickest way I’ve found  is this:   Don’t take care of baby plants.   If I sold puppies, I would not be happy with people who took them home and failed to care for them.   It is no different with plants.   They are helpless and dependent upon you for their care.   If you buy a plant, be ready to plant it that same day or see to perfect care in the meantime.   That’s hard, so much better to plant a plant the same day it leaves the nursery.  And keep the plants watered.   Telling me the sprinklers are set for such and such time, or you messed with a sprinkler clock will get you nowhere with me.   In addition to that, you have to check the spot where plants are installed and make sure they are truly moist.   If not, it does not matter what the clock says.  Give them water.  And the most common of all, telling me you hand water.   That is much more likely to kill plants if you rely on that alone without the use automatic irrigation.  Automatic irrigation happens daily for new plants.  I still like hand watering with the automatic system, but an irrigation system is the most important piece for success.

Today I had a novice where I was working completely ignore my instruction that a row of trees were in need of water now.   It may be tomorrow.  It may never come that he will actually go give those trees water.  I know while I was there (a few hours) it was ignored.   It is nearly 100 degrees today.  They are newly planted.  I am grumpy when I am ignored because I do know what can happen to those expensive trees.   It is so simple.  Just stop.  Water.  They will breathe a sigh of relief and you won’t be getting bad vibes from me.  Designing gardens is my job.  Planting them.   We water well on planting day.  But caring for them and watering is the landowner responsibility.  I am not capable of maintaining a pleasant mood while you kill my babies.   

Shoot, maybe I am too pleasant.   People don’t always seem to get it that when I say it needs water NOW that I mean NOW.   And just like a puppy that does not get water on a hundred degree day, it does not take long to have a tragic outcome.  However with a plant, the symptoms may take a few days to show despite the damage being done.

Watering is the key to establishing a new plant. Keeping the plant watered is the best insurance of a beautiful garden.

When you take home a plant, please plant it.  Water it.  Keep it watered.  And keep it watered at least until Halloween even if your sprinkler company comes earlier than that to turn off your system.   You can help prevent winter losses by not bringing plants into winter under drought stress.  A hose is a  pleasant thing.   My wealthiest client ever (in Coeur d’Alene) used to spend about an hour a day with a hose on his extensive garden.   Not that it required his help (he had a great irrigation system and 5 full time gardeners).  He simply loved watering the plants.   It is a bonus to all new plants to get the occasional deep watering.   That garden thrived.  Yours will as well if you give it the TLC (think water) that it needs.

A simple watering with a hose can help get deep moisture into the soil and keep plants healthy and alive.

And, I won’t be grumpy.   A beautiful garden is a beautiful thing.