Q: I am a little intimidated by gardening. I have a couple of holly bushes that I’ve had in pots near my entryway for months and they look like they need planting. How do I know where to plant them? Do I need a plan before I plant them? Where should I start?
A: Gardening intimidating??!! If you are unnerved by the prospect of gardening then I, and all gardeners, bear the blame. Let me drag out my soapbox here and preach for a moment.
Gardening is simple. Gardening is fun. Gardening is educational. Gardening is neighborly. Gardening is meditative. Gardening should never be scary or dismaying. If there is any part of gardening that seems unachievable then we gardeners who enjoy it so much have not communicated our joy to you successfully.
My son plays in a soccer league where, for the first few seasons, they don’t even keep score at games. The coaches have agreed that soccer is more fun when the emphasis is on learning skills rather than scoring points. I think you would profit by thinking the same way about gardening. If you haven’t grown anything before, give yourself at least a year of killing everything you try to plant. Don’t compare your yard to others – compare it to how it looked last month. As for the hollies, find a sunny spot, dig a hole, put the roots of the holly in the hole, cover with dirt and add some water. If the holly lives, it is the equivalent of scoring a goal in your first game. If it dies, you will have gained some knowledge to apply next time you plant something.
Do you need a plan? Not particularly. (I can imagine the howls of landscape and garden designers as they read this!) My point is that you don’t need a plan now because you’re just beginning to garden. Later, when you are reasonably sure you can keep plants alive, you’ll need a plan. And plans are everywhere! Drive around on a Saturday afternoon and look at other folk’s landscapes in your neighborhood. Surely you will find an arrangement of plants that appeals to you. If you have a camera, take a couple of pictures of plants you like but can’t identify. Take the pictures to any garden center and ask an employee to put those plants on your cart. Go home, dig holes and plant them. Hey! Now you’re a gardener! And you’ll continue to score points in your garden for the rest of your life!