12/01/2007

Practicing Patience

That would be a good name for a gardening blog, because that's half of the gardener's game. This time of year is all about investing in next year, and I'm impatient for the payoff on my investment. So I'm practicing patience right now.

Is the requirement for patience a reason has gardening has entered decline in this age of instant gratification? People make a terrible mistake when they fail to ascertain the rewards of practicing patience. Have you seen that in your life, or in the lives of people around you? I have.

Life still rewards patience, but sometimes it can be hard to see that.

That's what I was thinking about this morning while I pricked out and potted up a flat of Gilia tricolor (Bird's Eye).

December 1 2007 016

I felt the biggest problem in my 2007 garden was insufficient flowers. I want 2008 to be different, so I'm planting a succession of western wildflowers: Nemophila menziesii (Baby Blue Eyes), Layia platyglossa (Tidy Tips), Platystemon californica (Cream Cups), Limnanthes douglassii (Meadowfoam), Lupinus nanus (Sky Lupine), Phacelia tanecetifolia (Fernleaf Tansy), Clarkia bottae (Farewell-To-Spring)...

I'm starting them all in flats because I've had poor results previously from direct sowing. It seemed like a good idea at the time... after all, wildflowers direct sow themselves in nature. But no garden is entirely "natural". Besides that, natural conditions vary from year-to-year, and you can see that in the annual wildflower show.

Like any other investor, a gardener's strategy depends on both faith and reason. I have faith this is going to work out right, but I can't know that. I have reason to believe it, so I'm not exactly flying blind. But by definition, when you run on faith, you're running blind. You have no reason to believe--you just do.

But I don't think most people operate entirely on faith or entirely on reason, so it's funny that there isn't a single word in the English language for "a mixture of faith and reason". Instead, we have these two separate ideas side-by-side, and often at odds. (I'm not sure if that's really true or if it just seems that way.)

Anyway, it's interesting where the mind wanders when you're gardening. Which is a perfectly fine reason to garden in the first place.

8 comments:

Entangled said...

I totally agree with you about the lack of patience in gardeners, or investors for that matter. At the risk of sounding like a cranky old crone, I remember when the garden centers in spring were filled with tiny seedlings that people would buy, plant in their gardens, and then wait for them to grow and bloom. Now people expect to go to a garden center or big box store one weekend and have a garden the following Monday.

But then I like raising my own plants from seed and cuttings.

Good luck with your seedlings!

JvA said...

It is all about patience, isn't it? I guess I haven't really thought about it that way before.

I've been guilty of impatience -- planting things too close together. Now I think I'm going to have to uproot half my Julia Phelps Ceanothus plants because just one year in, the little 1-gallon plants are already starting to touch. (I think I'll remove every other plant and put them elsewhere.)

As a novice gardener, I find it hard to plant for years in the future. Especially when I don't even know if it's going to look good in the future, know what I mean? I know that sparse plantings look bad now, and I don't have enough gardening sense to know whether they'll look good in the future. Time will tell, I guess.

I find it helpful to think of it all as one big experiment.

Carol said...

I agree, a gardener needs a lot of patience in their "tool shed". But what is this comment about "insufficient flowers" in 2007? As I recall, your bloom day posts were quite lengthy with all the blooms you had!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Anonymous said...

"If, as I believe, gardeners are the elect of the earth, cured in humility and grace and other good things, it is because Nature herself hammers in upon us the lessons of patience, and reminds us far too frequently how little our skill and experience are worth."
--Henry Mitchell

Christopher C. NC said...

As long as you are moving forward you may not notice you are being patient or think that you need it.

Having faith often leads to the clearest vision which is the opposite of flying blind.

Annie in Austin said...

You probably realized that you made a kind of pun here, Chuck, because Patience is another name for the card game Solitaire. Sometimes being a patient gardener means you have to have solitary time to plan those things for which you are willing to wait.

You have lots of blog friends who plant tiny shrubs and trees and seeds, so we're practiced enough at it to wait patiently for the photos of the Baby Blue Eyes, Tidy Tips, Cream Cups), and Clarkia.

And along with Carol I think Chuck and insufficient flowers don't belong in the same sentence!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

The County Clerk said...

Seedlings in December... NICE.

lisa said...

Personally, I have to think of patience as "persistent optimism". If I CALL it patience, I feel crabby. (?!)