"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you." — Wayne DyerA few years ago, I wrote a post entitled The 12 Relationship Rules for Gardeners. In it, I mentioned that many of the same “rules” that work in human relationships also apply to our relationships with our gardens.
This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I will be going over some of those rules.
To get things rolling, I will start with what I think is the number one rule in both relationships and gardening, and that is “Don’t try to change the object of your affection.”
In human relationships, no matter how much we think we love someone just the way they are, eventually we come up with something that we think needs to be changed about them. Perhaps we want them to go on a diet or to drink less. Maybe we think they should be more affectionate or more talkative or less opinionated. Whatever the change may be, we think, for some reason, that we should be able to modify this human being that has already been existing just fine on their own, to better suit our desires. And we expect them to be happy about it. Or at least to accept our version of the new and improved “them” without protest. But this rarely works. And so the secret to a happy long-term relationship with another human is to get to know as much about them as you can, before you commit to them, to make sure that you can live with them just the way they are. And then instead of trying to change them, spend your life encouraging them to be the best of what they already are.
The same theory holds true of our landscapes. To have the most successful relationship with a landscape, you have to get to know as much about it as you can before you start trying to co-exist with it. You need to learn how it has been living up until the time it met you. How much does it like to drink? What does it like to eat? Is it showy and flamboyant or is it more laid back and natural?
Sure, we have a lot more control over modifying a landscape than we do another human being. But the result in both cases is the same. To have the happiest, most successful, maintenance-free relationship with a person or a garden, learn to work with and bring out their natural beauty rather than trying to change them into something else.
So, the number one rule for successful gardening is: Get to know your site conditions and learn to Work With Mother Nature, Not Against Her
Getting to know your landscape and its needs and wants will help you chose the right plants which are properly adapted to your site conditions. It will help you conserve water and will reduce the need for unnecessary and unhealthy garden additives such as chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
There are way too many beautiful people and beautiful pieces of land in the world that are suffering because someone is trying to make them into something they are not. And when any of that natural beauty fades away and dies, the whole world suffers for it.