Patience – Do You Know Why Patient Gardeners End Up With the Best Garden? Read on to Find Out
Patience is a virtue much in decline in this instant gratification epoch. This is no less evident in gardening; a word that not so long ago was synonymous with such terms as serenity, balance, harmony, and of course patience.
Writing in the 80s, Christopher Lloyd, the world-renowned British gardener, said that for the first five years after planting, “there’s nothing to talk about.” Nothing to talk about! Dear Mr. Lloyd was very advanced in years when he wrote those immortal lines. He should have met some of my customers and see them jumping up and down two weeks after planting the garden, pointing out that “there’s not a lot going on”, or “can’t we push thing along a bit”.
Times of course have changed since Christopher Lloyd was in his horticultural heyday. In warm climates, there is no need in any case, to wait five years for things to happen as the average garden begins to take shape after about a year or so. However, the most memorable elements in gardening tend to be those that take time to grow and develop. The wise gardeners know this, and acting accordingly, adopt the precious attitude that in the end makes their gardens so worthy of admiration. That attitude is patience.
Take the tree for example. Nothing remotely compares to a tree in terms of its power, and in its capacity to move and inspire us. Even the greatest artist would have to admit that no human hand could create a sculpture to match an old, gnarled Oak or Beach. The fact is there is no substitute for maturity in a garden, and the great trees in the world’s finest parks are as such because generations of gardeners had the time, dedication, and patience to nurture and care for them.
Impatience on the other hand causes gardeners to ignore slow growing species, to the detriment of the garden as a whole, because many slow growers happen to be amongst the most successful of landscape plants. This is especially relevant to dry climate gardens, where a correlation exists (although not in every case) between slow growth and drought resistance. Beautiful, drought-tolerant shrubs like Pittosporum, Raphiolepis, Carissa and Grevillea, are hard to “sell” these days, because they take “too long” to grow.
If maturity is the single most prized asset to a garden, fashion is its most insidious enemy. The patient gardener is in horticulture for the long term, while the instant gratification brigade tend to be swayed by whatever latest show plant the garden centers introduce. Many of these plants, by virtue of their rampant growth, upset the balance and harmony of the garden, are liable to take over, and in the worst cases, turn out to be invasive pests.
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