Have you ever been overcome by disaster? If you’re a gardener, then you know what I’m talking about. Perhaps, you spent endless waking hours thoroughly researching and selecting the plants for your garden. Maybe the garden design itself was carefully thought out and planned for well in advance, and the soil was amended to perfection. Or so you thought. Disaster strikes and out of the blue, moles begin burrowing throughout the soil, uprooting all of your beautiful plants and making a mockery of your garden. You sit back, planning out your retaliation against these pests. Alas, your strategic methods have paid off; the moles are gone. But wait, what is this? A storm is on the horizon, and once again, disaster is headed your way. As you scour the garden to make certain everything is securely staked, the unrelenting winds quickly uproot your favorite fruit tree, nearly carrying you away in the process. And then the torrential rains set in, flooding your entire backyard and washing out most of the garden. You ask yourself, “Where did I go wrong?” The fact is, you didn’t do anything wrong. Even though you do everything right and by the book and even if you have years of gardening experience under your belt, things will go wrong; after all accidents do happen. Unfortunately, garden disasters are a natural part of the gardening process. Whether they present themselves as storms, droughts, pests, or those we create ourselves, these things just happen. That’s life and no matter what you do or how well you do it, when it comes to gardening, there will always be a challenge to overcome; there will always be another garden disaster brewing.
Garden disasters are something I learned about early on. In truth, this favorite pastime is extremely unpredictable. The more you learn, the more there is to learn. Even the most knowledgeable gardening professionals find themselves scratching their heads once in a while. The point, as with any mistake, is to learn from it and move on. The same can be said for garden disasters. Do not focus on what went wrong but rather, what can be done to correct it or make it better. Experience doesn’t guarantee fewer disasters; amateur gardeners have seen success in areas where other, more qualified individuals, have failed. It isn’t always skill, or even lack thereof, it is simply happenstance, just sheer good luck or even bad. Much of our gardening success does, however, depend on the quality of soil you are working with, at least for healthier plant growth, but even this does not protect against unforeseen disasters such as hurricanes or the like.
Most of our failures in the garden come from hasty decision making. When it comes to plants, some are good to have around while others are not. Often we find ourselves plucking seedlings from the ground prematurely, mistaking them for weeds. More often than not, however, these are actually flowers from self-seeding varieties that we put there to begin with. There are also those occasions when we have the tendency to, unwittingly, place aggressive types of plants into our garden. Then we watch in disbelief as the garden becomes engulfed by the merciless ground-covering plants. Sometimes the extra research into a plant’s particular growth habits is well worth the time. Beautiful flowers aren’t always worth the trouble. Who isn’t guilty now and then of wanting to add a plant to the garden simply for its appealing aspects? At other times we choose to implement flowers or foliage plants that are unsuited to our area. Why do we do it? There are some people who actually get away with it, growing extraordinary specimen plants. But for most of us, this isn’t an option; yet we still try and fail. And once again we find ourselves with another garden disaster.
Gardeners aren’t the culprits all the time. Even under the best of circumstances, the greatest gardener can fail, miserably. The garden itself does not care how well you have worked the soil or whether or not the plants are hardy to the area. Sometimes nature takes the reins. Pests come in all forms, and insects are probably the worst of garden disasters, eating up everything within reach. I have never recommended pesticides, never will either, but even the safest methods of pest control are not foolproof. It seems insects have a knack for getting around them, finding their way into the garden, somehow. I try to keep natural insect-repelling plants around the garden. It helps, but it doesn’t deter them all. Even if you successfully combat the insects, you still have those four-legged creatures to look out for, especially if you live near wooded areas. Deer, rabbits and other rodents are probably the most common of these types of pests and can demolish a garden in no time. No matter how good the gardener; the pests are sometimes better.
As every gardener is different, so is the garden. Regardless of our individual gardening disasters or those spawned by Mother Nature herself, we will continue working in our gardens, changing or improving upon them. Hopefully, in the process, we will continue learning from them as well. We may succeed greatly with some methods and fail miserably with others. But we will never be free from a gardening disaster now and then. Disasters will happen. You win some; you lose some-that’s just gardening. Gardens are not meant to be perfect; nothing in life is.