Novice or “I Am But A Young Gardener”

8 08 2011

Welcome To Paul & Linda's Garden All You "Novice" Gardeners

“Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.”– Thomas Jefferson

Now I bet I read that quote from Thomas Jefferson a thousand times in gardening articles in magazine, books, online on gardening blogs and websites. It seems everyone and his or her brother was quoting old Tommy Jefferson. Even to the point where I thought Geez Thomas, enough is enough of you’re being an “old man and but a young gardener” already. But you know what fellow gardeners, I just didn’t get it. But I do now. And no matter how many times I see that quote now I just smile and think to myself, “That Thomas Jefferson, this guy was pretty smart, not just about politics and helping launch the greatest country on earth, not just writing the Declaration of Independence but if all that wasn’t enough, this guy was one hell of a gardener if you’ll excuse my French…:-) He knew what it was to be a gardener.

He knew, he wasn’t like me, who when the first year or so I was gardening and I’d read all these books on gardening and magazines on gardening and knew the names of all the latest cultivars of the latest and greatest plant introductions that paticular year and I thought that made me a good gardener who knew everything. Nope, that boat ain’t sailing fellow gardeners. I had lots of knowledge and I’d read the experiences of OTHER GARDENERS, seen the pictures of beautiful flowers of OTHER GARDENERS, read how OTHER GARDENERS took care of their plants but until I had took care of my own for a few years and watched them the first year “sleep”, the second year “creep” and the third year “leap” and then and only then was I just scratching the surface of really becoming a gardener. Jefferson knew that. He knew lots of things but he really, really “got” gardening. Know what I mean fellow gardeners?….

Now yesterday I had a nice chat with this nice lady who is a friend of mine and she’d come over to my house earlier this year to see my garden with some other folks, friends of mine from my home town, Piedmont. And this is the conversation we had more or less. I know she won’t mind me using her chat with me in this little story. It doesn’t contain any national security secrets or embarrassing things about me, cause I done told  you about almost all of the embarrassing moments in my life, well most of them, you know the ones you can retell on a G-Rated blog….:-) And she didn’t reveal anything about herself in our conversation that would qualify her to be on the Jerry Springer Show or on the Dr.Phil show, no just a nice conversation about one of my favorite subjects, gardening. So if you’re ready fellow gardeners I am…….Here goes…..

Freda, “Morning Paul, I get up early every morning. not up all night. (I’d asked her if she was an early riser cause I’d been up all night rewriting text for my new blog and photo captions) Hope you’re going to share those photos. I’ve been googling “container gardening”, I have big plans for retirement in a few months and may be calling on you for help because I define NOVICE when it comes to gardening—but I so want to learn.”

And then I chimed in  –  “Girl, have I got a quote for you this fine morning,”Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.”– Thomas Jefferson. Now I’m an old man but a young gardener and every gardener young or old is but “a young gardener” themselves cause we all learn everyday something new piddling in our gardens. From our first day of even thinking about a garden, to planning it, buying the plants, planting the plants and taking care of the plants in sickness and in health to death do you part. We’ve all been novice gardeners and only experience gives you perspective of knowing just how much you got to learn but my goodness at the fun you have learning as you go along. You’re going to do fine and if you need any help I’m available most all the time except when I’m loading the dishwasher”…..:-)

I don’t know if quoting Thomas Jefferson helped her or not or what I told her, but it sure couldn’t hurt her, well not much…..:-)

And then she said:

Freda: “Love the quote…Can’t wait to get started. Last night we had dinner with an old friends…everything we ate (other than the steak) was fresh from their garden…it was awesome…and I certainly may be calling on you, so get the dishwasher loaded.”

Fellow gardeners I love “novice” gardeners with lots of enthusiasm, cause when I had first started gardening whatever I lacked in experience I made up in enthusiasm and optimism, , like my friend Freda here. And when she came over I could tell she wanted “to get it” about gardening.  Sometimes you just know some folks either “get it” or they don’t. Now you might not “get it” one day but “have it” the next. I mean look at me. A few years ago I wouldn’t cross the street to look at a flower or a plant or a rose arbor or a flowering shrug or tree. I just didn’t care about’em. Even when I saw’em I didn’t really “see’em” not really. And now? I stop in the middle of road and cause traffic jams looking at climbing roses climbing on anything I can see out the window of my car…..;-) It drives my wife nuts, not because she doesn’t love them too but because she’s smarter than me and doesn’t want to get hit from behind but someone who doesn’t appreciate climbing old fashioned roses in bloom and doesn’t automatically slow down to see them or for sure doesn’t stop in the middle of the road for them……:-)

So I reckon what I want to say in this another in a long line of overly long, very confusing little stories of mine is this….Everyone is either young, a little older, and then a little older, and even still older.  And some of us, like me and old Thomas Jefferson when he wrote “Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.” are a lot older. We’re old men but young gardeners and we learn something new about the plants we grow everyday. And tomorrow we’ll learn even more about them and tomorrow we’ll learn about new plants we want to try and the next year we’ll learn still more about them.

And along the way, well if you’re gardener, I mean if you put a plant in the ground to see if it’ll grow. You’re going to kill some plants, they’re going to die on you. But don’t feel like a failure. Even old men with lots of experience like me kill plants every now and then and I sometimes I don’t even have a clue why they die. But the process, the process of learning about your plants by growing them yourself, by experience, by successes and failure is such a rewarding thing for young novices and old novices alike like me that I reckon I just want to leave you with one thought. A good one. One that will make you feel better when a plant dies on you. Dies on you one day for no reason that you can figure out. And here it is fellow gardeners. Something to make you feel better in that situation. One day, well one day you’re going to die too…..:-) So cheer up, enjoy gardening while you can and learn all you can by growing as many different plants as you can. The more the merrier. Cause you only live once fellow gardeners and NOT FOREVER……

Paul From Alabama




2 responses

9 08 2011
Nell Jean

Paul, how long did it take you to learn that plants in magazines and books that looked so good growing together might not perform the same way as in Philadelphia or Seattle or St. Louis because of the difference in climates?

When I learned to garden like North Florida instead of Cape Cod and threw out all those books written by people whose soil didn’t warm until late June, I commenced to bloom where I was planted.

9 08 2011

Nell Jean it took me about the first April……:-) Some of my early combinations were nice alone I reckon but I never got to see them TOGETHER……:-) I’m a tad dense but I finally got it through me thick head that they’re growing season was such that every darn thing they had bloomed together……:-) Where as we down here had a nice leisurely growing season where like that Bible verse which for the life of me right now I can’t remember but something like “for everything a season” ,well we Southerners had a longgggggggg growing season where things could kinda pace themselves. I reckon there is something to be said for both climates but good Lord I’m just now getting used to our Alabama springs and summers, don’t confuse me with what’s going on in April in Connecticut…..:-) Like you I feel I’m kinda blooming now where I’m “planted”…..:-)

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