Christine's garden Gardening Miscellaneous

How much I’ve learnt in ten short months

It is no secret that less than a year ago I knew pretty much nothing about gardening and plants. OK, perhaps I’m exaggerating a little … I knew the names of a few plants, bougainvillea, roses and lilies spring to mind. I think I also knew about Marigolds, daisies and ferns. Oh and of course I knew all about Ivy, because Ivy was the most prolific plant in my overgrown jungle of a garden. Ivy and a few ferns.

Fast forward ten short months and during a visit to a nursery today I amazed myself by how much I have learnt. Stopping at plants and knowing the proper names, recognising textures and shapes, knowing what would work where … and of course stumbling on a few new-to-me plants, looking at the names and recognising having seen them before on a blog or in a book. It was a most pleasurable (and again educational) two hours spent amongst the plants.

The gardening course I have been busy with promised me in the opening notes that I would no longer go to nurseries and come back with “impulse buy” plants. The course entitled “Planting Design” promised that I would make plans before buying and that I would more often than not leave a nursery without buying anything, if what I had gone there for was not available. Well that was put to the test today … for the first time I discovered Hellebores at a nursery here in Cape Town. Eleven little Hellebores all lined up in a row and I so badly wanted to buy them. But my new ‘plant philosophy’ is that if I don’t have a plan, I can’t buy, so I left without them. A first for me! That’s not to say I won’t go back for them … as soon as I have a plan for them.

But then a detour to Exclusive Books and I succumbed to impulse buying and left with two new books. Pocket books actually, both by the Royal Hortucultural Society (RHS). The first book is RHS Plants for PlacesWith full colour photographs and information for over 1,000 tried and tested plants, this is the pocket-sized guide for trips to the garden centre and nursery.

The second is RHS Good Plant GuideWhether you want to cultivate the classic English rose or grow a crop of climbing French beans, choose plants with confidence with the RHS Good Plant Guide. Recommends over 3,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, bedding plants, fruits and vegetables for every garden situation and with more than 1,500 colourful photos and illustrations.

These are two lovely little books to assist in my continued gardening education 🙂

[one_half]RHS Plants for PlacesPlants for places[/one_half]

[one_half_last]RHS Good Plant GuideRHS Good Plant Guide[/one_half_last]

I love these little books as they are great reference books as well as being useful to pick up and page through for a few minutes every now again, just to familiarise myself with new plants or to look up known plants for more info. Small and compact they are also easy to pop into a bag in case I do want to take one on a nursery visit – easily hidden in a bag so I don’t go there looking too much like a gardening-nerd!

Off to read about plants
Happy Gardening

By Christine

Dominated by large trees on a medium sized property, my garden is very shaded. With no “full sun” areas I have to plant shade and partial shade loving plants. I love shrubs and flowers including camellias and azaleas but Roses and Irises are my favourite and getting these to thrive is a challenge …

15 replies on “How much I’ve learnt in ten short months”

I enjoyed your post Christine…it does feel good to resist an impulse now and then…but then again, it feels good to give in to them once in a while too 😉 Now, go get those hellebores!

I am not sure I would stop making impulse buys at the nursery. Sometimes a plant is calling me, and no matter how much I know I still buy it and find a place for it. You seem to have learned so much in such a short time. And I am learning more by your generous sharing of some of your knowledge.

Oh, this makes me kind of sad. I know impulse buys get a bad reputation. But, years ago I would not buy a plant unless it fit my design. Then I fell in love with plants, not just design, and I impulse buy every time I go anywhere there is a plant for sale! It gives me pleasure, and I kind of like the hodge-podge look!

For me, impulse buys are the reason so many great pots exist — get a great plant now, stick it in a pot, then decide what to do with it later.

I love the occasional impulse buy, especially when there’s a bargain. I’d rather have a “few” extra plants around than remorse about not buying when I had the chance. Although I always do a quick “basics” check on the Internet via phone before handing over the money.

Congratulations Christine, I wish i learn what i should from blogging, however they are not as extensive as yours. I am already a horticulturist, so what i want to learn are in physical blogging, but i am not good in computer instructions so maybe i failed. However i am already happy as I got many friends from here. So i thank blogging very much.

From buying plants to buying gardens. How interesting!

I think most of us experience the same thing; buying plants on impulse. To solve the problem, I stop visiting the nurseries unless I have a plan.

I usually don’t buy a plant unless I have a place to put it, but I also allow myself an occasional impulse purchase. Years ago, I saw a daylily at a specialty nursery open house that was very rounded and had a copper-color glow. I instantly fell in love with it, but I didn’t buy it — and I have regretted it ever since. I haven’t been able to identify it and I’ve never seen it again, but it haunts my dreams. The next time I saw a plant that grabbed me that way — Geranium pratense ‘Splish Splash’ — I bought it and brought it home. I quickly found a space for it in an existing flower bed, and its whimsical coloring has made me smile every year since. I’m definitely a planner, but I think plans need to include flexibility.
The books look great. (I don’t feel any compunction to have a plan for a book before I buy it!)

Hi Jean

I hear you! I doubt I am completely “cured”, I sure hope I am not because I have a few beloved plants that were complete impluse buys, so … I’m sure I will give in to temptation again.

Books … I love books and will never stop buying them. I have a Kindle and do buy the odd book on there, but there is nothing quite like the feel of paper and beautiful photos of plants in my hand. I have way more gardening books than is normal for someone with my limited experience but I love paging through them, learning and dreaming about what my garden might just be … one day!

PS: I love your blog! I learn a lot from you 🙂

Oh no, what if the hellebores aren’t there when you go back!?! Just kidding, planning is good (I have to say that, I’m supposed to be a professional). Honestly though, I have a life list of plants I want to have in my garden, and if I find one I buy it. Trial and error is the only way to learn, no shortcuts. Quickly make a plan and then go back for those hellebores!!!

Hi Carolyn – hehe, I know!! I’ve been thinking about those Hellebores all eveing. I think I’ll go back tomorrow and get them. Its so rare to see them here that I better snap them up 🙂

Dear Christine, Congratulations! I am impressed that you didn’t succumb to impulse and purchase the hellebores. I have been gardening for quite a bit longer than you, and still make some impulse buys – but not as many as before, mainly because I am running out of space. P. x

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