Tuesday, March 6

Going Through a Phase?

As far as checking gardening forums goes, I do it sporadically. I find that blogs are usually much more in-depth in the way that I crave. The other day, though, I had finished checking all of the blogs I like via Garden Voices, and decided to visit their forums. On the Perennials forum, a poster with the username "Aachenelf" (who I wish had a blog of his own, by the way) had posed an interesting question: "Have you gone through plant or gardening phases?"

I'm a relative newbie in the world of gardening, so I was surprised to realize that I have already gone through quite a few phases. I'll post some more about my phases in a few days, but I wanted to pose the same question to all of you first.

Any gardening phases that you've gone through? An expensive addiction to Japanese maples? A tireless quest for the perfect foxglove? The quest to create the perfect kitchen garden, worthy of a French chateau? The mistaken belief that you really needed to grow 37 different kinds of tomatoes--and that you would eat or can them all?

Come on, now... this one will be fun. Let's all 'Fess Up!


Carol Michel said...

Gardening phases? It will take me more than one post, but I'm willing to give it a try. I've been gardening since I was a child which means... ummm... quite a few years and plenty of time for phases!

Annie in Austin said...

What a fun idea, Blackswamp girl. Wow, some of those people on GW really went nuts! 500 varieties of daylily?

I had about 50 daylilies, plus dozens of dwarf miniature iris, dozens more of standard iris, along with Siberian iris and whatever species iris I could get my hands on. Sometimes I even dreamed about them.

My daylily and iris collections stage ran at the same time, and I could only afford to buy a few at a time. My friends were not wealthy, either, so they bought other cultivars, we'd grow them for a couple of seasons, then trade. Since the acquisition had a gentle upward slope, the downslide wasn't bad.

Is sorting out the beds by color considered a phase? If so, then I'm still in that one after decades of gardening!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Anonymous said...


Uh... MY LIFE is a series of phases. Annie's Iris's bring me back. My mama and grandma had the most amazing German Iris gardens. Grandma had half an acre of Iris. They'd all go to purple or yellow in a few years though. So, every year, more cultivars.

When I lived in the South I was fairly wacked out on Canna Lilies and (believe it or not) Ajuga. I also had a "Monkey Grass year" where I had this idea that since our St. Augustine yellowed slightly in the heat (and totally in our snowless winters) I would plant an entire lawn with monkey grass and then just "mow it high." I'd hoped to have an entirely deep green lawn. THAT was an expensive phase.

My wife LOVED lilies and tulips. I fairly went off the deep end there too.

Yep... digitalis.

OH... and Delphinium.

I feel that I'm the edge of a Hydrangea phase... but I'm not sure.

I had a "corn year" once... I'd thought it would be "cool" to grown heirloom corn in my gardens (nevermind that these ENORMOUS stalks are ENORMOUS, corn is a magnet for insects and I essential brought plague into the flowers).

And these bulbs... I can't resist. Alliums.

Oh, lettuce.

Wow. I think maybe I am a real mess. And I'd thought I sort of had it together. :)

Kylee Baumle said...

That's actually a subject I have down for a future post on my blog, but for now, here are the phases I've gone through or am still going through, in only two years of gardening:

Lilies, especially the orientals and orienpets
Heucheras, tiarellas, and heucherellas
Variegated foliage
Rex begonias

Christopher C. NC said...

There was the wandering in the woods and playing in the large southern gardens of my grandparents as a child. There was the mowing of the thick St. Augustine lawn with a push mower slave labor at home garden, cussing and hating it in the hot Florida sun.

Small beds and vegetable gardens at different places with a few potted plants that followed a restless young man moving many times in four years.

A houseplant nut in Colorado with blooming Bougainvillea before I knew better and Banana trees under sky lights. The most memorable and prolific vegetable garden so far featuring a single mannequin’s leg with tennis shoe pointing skyward in Fort Collins while in school in the landscape design program.

Returning home and restoring the neglected garden of my childhood home while graduating from college. The botanical garden I worked and volunteered at. Realizing when it was time to go that a Haworthia fasciata I was selling had been in my possession for about 20 years when my mom let me buy it at the grocery store as a kid and it had moved to Colorado and back with me.

Landing on Maui and staying just because. Creating gardens for myself and others then abandoning them. More creation and abandonment. Creation, maturity and disillusionment.

The undoing of disillusionment by a slow untangling and now more abandonment.

Ready once again for Creation that I must guard from stagnation.

There are far too many plant species involved to define my gardening phases that way.

Chris Kreussling (Flatbush Gardener) said...

First off, astonished that you could "catch up" with the blogs you read. I guess I need to pare back my blogrolls ...

I don't think I've gone through phases so much as I've expanded my tastes, interests, and skills over time. Most of it has been driven by the gardening circumstances available to me. Gardening in the city presents some harsh limitations, and each garden is unique.

There has been an order to things:

Flowers, then foliage, then form

Perennials, then annuals, then starting from seed, then woody plants

Shade, then sun

Ground, then containers

One thing I've yet to get into is food: fruits and vegetables. Mostly, I've just never had enough sun to do it, or it's been in the wrong place (front of the building instead of the back). I might have enough sun in our home now, but it will have to wait until we get more exterior work completed on the house.

Ki said...

Alright Pandora, now you've done it.

I have about 25 different cultivars of Japanese maples. I think I've got it out of my system now and we have no more space but...they do grow slowly and they have more than 400 different cultivars sooo...and the shape and color shifting Higasayama looks too wonderful to pass up...

Now my quest is for unusual shrubs and perennials. I just ordered Osmanthus x Burkwoodi, a Mespilus Germanicus Medlar (small tree), Kirengeshoma, many Epimediums, Exochorda "the Bride", cyclamens and primroses, viola odorata, birches etc, etc.

The devil's work. Too much idle time. This winter has lasted too long.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Depends on the bed that I am planting. I started with herbs, that was my gateway plant, then well all mayhem broke loose. Veggies, low care perrenials, self seeding annuals, shade plants... the list goes on... now I'm interested in low maintenance veggies.

Anonymous said...

I'll echo Xris's flower to foliage to form. I've only been doing 'serious' landscape gardening for six years or so. In the beginning, I planted flowers. Now, I grow plants.

When I started, I wanted my garden to look like other people's gardens. But I quickly realized that was never going to happen. I know that I break too many of the 'rules', but am happier for it.

lisa said...

Look what you started! My phases have been many, and seem to accumulate and stay with me rather than pass! I started with veggie gardens with my parents, and that's actually the only type of gardening I don't still indulge in. (Only because I don't have room up here, and there are too many hungry animals to compete with.) Then I got into collecting flowers...first hostas, then sedums, daylilies, ferns...then water gardening in wash tubs. The past couple years I've been on a real "pollinator kick", determined to provide lots of bee and butterfly-friendly plants. In fact, I'm going "echinacea crazy" this spring, as well as buying milkweed and more fruiting bushes for myself and the birds. I also have a vine habit, mostly to block the view of my creepy neighbors. And recently bonsai has become a new itch to scratch! So my addiction has grown to include many "drugs" of choice...and frankly I love it!

Kati said...

Phases?? I think my gardening has been a headlong plunge into mania. I still want to grow 37 varieties of tomatoes! I have stooped so low as to take an informal survey of everybody I work with to find out where I might get takers for the garden surplus. And, if the harvest is overwhelming, there's the compost pile, so I don't feel it's wasted. Besides, Mother Nature is pretty profligate herself!

Gotta Garden said...

...confession...I am...ahem...a bit of a collector...so, I guess I am nuts by Annie's standard (laughing)...I would have to say 'only' 500 daylilies??

Plant phases: hmmm, I grow less vegetables because I have less room (all those daylilies, you know)...mostly just tomatoes and peppers...so, I guess that's one.

I can actually say no to plants now...I just don't always choose to...lol!

I do think I've gone through phases as a gardener and that's all good..as growth is necessary. I actually think I wrote something about this...I will head off to see what and when it was! Thanks for the nudge!

Greg C said...

I went through the veggie phase, the great looking lawn phase and now I am in the day lily phase. I am about to enter the water garden phase I think.


Kathy said...

Colchicums. Over 2 dozen kinds. I want to know what makes them tick. I actually didn't buy any last fall so perhaps I have finally become surfeited. I did buy some exquisite narcissus so perhaps that's where I am going next.

a gardener said...

I've been in my nightshade phase for some time now. Heirloom tomatoes, peppers and eggplant devour the lion's share of my garden time. But I have carved out time for a new phase, amaranths. I've planted seven varieties so far. Where I'll put them is another question altogether.


Melanie Chopay said...

What a fun topic!

Like many others, I began in the vegetable phase, then quickly moved into a cutting garden phase.

Next came the perennial phase which lasted only a few years because I got totally run over by the daylily phase (I've only got 450 here)

Still love those daylilies but thankfully we moved to a large property and I could go back to the perennial phase. Here's some that I collect:
and lots more! Somehow if I fall in love with a plant I have to find all the other ones like (or unlike) it.
Currently? I'm in a foliage phase, looking for great foliage plants and I'm also on the verge of a flowering shrub phase.

Thanks for the trip through my mind :-) Melanie

Idaho Gardener said...

OK, here are two of the stoopidist phases you can think of: "i don't do orange in the garden phase," and "I don't do roses phase." Good grief. I am done making proclamations. I am now lusting after orange and have secretly banished yellow but not said anything until now. And, I have roses everywhere. I just had to learn how to tend to them. Not a lot, just sometimes.

And, I did the tomato ga-ga thing as well. Who did I think I was feeding, Rhode Island?

You are in excellent company!

lisa said...

GRASSES!! How did I forget grasses? I bet I have 20 varieties...I even collect seed from wild varieties to try and "tame" them into my home garden.

growingagardenindavis said...

Vegetables...but I guess it's not a phase because that's going on 35 years. Some years that's almost all I grew but I felt that was the bare minimum. But actual phases...daylilies, scented geraniums, salvias, cranesbill, and now succulents. And I guess if Idaho Gardener is right and dislike is a phase then I second the "I don't do orange" and add "no summer red" and "no summer bright yellow". Although the summer red ban is possibly weakening...

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