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The Passionate Gardener

Lou and I spent the last couple of days pruning shrubs and trimming trees.I do not commit crape murder! I prune this crape myrtle so that it is allowed to grow into its naturally beautiful tree form. Unfortunately, I still see crape myrtles that have been chopped back to large stubs, a practice that promotes ugly knots and lots of weak sprouts.I felt a rush of satisfaction as  I removed dead branches, shaped and cut wayward shoots from crape myrtles and apple trees. They look great now and are ready for a new season of growth. There is much to do as spring approaches, and as I worked I was happily making a list of projects. The world is wakening! Leaf and flower buds are beginning to appear and bulbs are pushing up out of the earth.Hepatica blooms

Variegated Winter Daphne is loaded with buds that are not quite open.

Flowering quince

The young man we hired to help us yesterday was a kindred spirit. He glowed when he talked of his plans to study horticulture and his love of plants and nature. Is this sort of thing genetic? Are we born gardeners? Lou once worked with a man who was a successful businessman, who also happened to be a body-builder. But this tough guy's real love was growing roses. Then there are a couple of former head football coaches, Pat Dye of Auburn and Vince Dooley of the University of Georgia, who have both become passionate gardeners in their retirement years. Last year I had the pleasure of visiting Pat Dye's marvelous garden. He talked to our group and said, while football was the job he was known for, gardening was who he was. Hellebores are now blooming.

Another lovely hellebore

What makes us love gardening so much? What pulls us to the soil, no matter what other responsibilities and professions we may have? Is it the joy of creativity and watching things grow, the exercise, the fresh air, or the challenge of conquering difficult climate and soil conditions? Forsythia is one of the earliest spring bloomers.

Camellia 'Red Candles'What draws you to gardening?

You may also enjoy these posts:

Confessions of a Perfectionist

About Garden Chores

Five Rules To Prune By

Pruning is fun and other basics you need to know

Happy Gardening!   Deb

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Reader Comments (20)

Excellent thoughts and questions, Deb. I've been fascinated with nature all my life. Passion for gardening really hit me when we bought our first house, and I had my own space for outdoor planting. I do think it's a common human trait, but some of us are more passionate about it than others, and at various stages in our lives. I'm glad to read that you don't commit Crape Murder. We don't have Crape Myrtles up here in zone 5, but when I've seen examples of the severe pruning on people's blogs, it's made me a little sick to my stomach. Thank you for this glimpse of spring! We will have a very cold week this week, but I'm hoping the journey to spring after that will not include any more bitter cold. I do have Daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs poking up in my garden. Good thing we have some snow cover to protect them!

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

I think it is genetic for me, and I'm happy it's so! ❤️ You seem to be a bit ahead of us; no forsythia or quince blooming here yet. Enjoy your week ahead!

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristi {Jealous Hands}

Oh my, you have blooms already!. I'm missing my forsythia. I had a pale yellow one in my Gettysburg garden, and I used to cut branches and bring them inside in January for February blooms. I did bring a shoot of this with me to Maine to see if I can get it established here, but I'm still at least a few years away from flowers.

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Your garden already looks beautiful, Deb! As to your question, maybe some of us are indeed born with a particular affection for plants. I can't really relate my interest to a family foundation. Although I do have vague memories of following my father around when he puttered about the yard, he died when I was 6 year old and neither my mother nor later my stepfather showed any interest in gardening. Yet I collected indoor plants from the time I was in grade school and, as soon as I had a rental apartment with the tiniest bit of outdoor space, I spread outside and have never stopped since. Gardening delivers a sense of peace hard to find anywhere else.

February 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Pruning is a deeply satisfying activity, isn't it Deb. I love your hepaticas, such delicacy. Gardening - the more I do the more I love it. I love the creativity, the rhytym, the repetition. I can lose myself in the moment when weeding, pruning or sowing seeds. I can daydream whole landscapes when planning future plantings. There is that frisson of pleasure when a new combination of plants works well or an old friend pops up on time in a new gardening year. There is a rhythm to it all and yet it is all constantly new as well.

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet/Plantaliscious

It is such a pleasure to meet with other people who have the same love of plants! I come from generations of farmers, so I think that gardening is in my blood. I love how, even though some of my relatives have completely different personalities from me, the one thing we have in common is the love of gardening.

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

I think gardening is deep within many of us and given the opportunity we enjoy growing are caring for plants but I also think it is genetic or at least something we learn from a very early age. I have happy memories of being in the garden with my father when I was a young child and having a little piece of garden that I could plant things in for myself. I would love for my father to be around now to show him my garden; he dies before I discovered my adult gardening self.

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I have a little cutting of crape myrtle from our Portervillle garden. That one had beautiful cinnamon bark. Now the little plant is all of a few inches high!

I garden, in part to make habitat for wild flowers and their creatures, and to make a space I am happy both to be in, and to garden in.

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Dear Deb, I admire that you and your husband are pruning your shrubs and trimming your trees yourself. Even though I can imagine that it is quite satisfying I also think it is very hard work.
Why do I love to garden? I think the best way I can describe it is that I feel it is a very deep inner need inside myself like eating and sleeping. And boy do I get cranky, if I don't get to garden for a couple of days ;-)! I think that it is simply the connection with nature that I am seeking and that makes me deeply happy.
Warm regards,

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

This week was also the first week I could get into the garden so the yard barrel is now full and ready to be composted by the city. I did feel really good to get out and stretch the arms and legs again.

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

For me, the joy of creativity, but also having a place for insect, animal and bird life to feed, be safe and have shelter. Little is about my pleasure in the garden, especially in winter. I just penned a post on winter dormancy and I should have mentioned trimming and maintaining plants. I didn't because I look to winter as a time to rest for me. Good post, Deb.

February 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I think I inherited my love of gardening from my mother. She has always created the most amazing gardens where ever we lived. It wasn't until I started habitat gardening that I really felt a strong responsibility to the earth. Now I garden for land restoration and wildlife. It is very gratifying.

February 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarin/Southern Meadows

As always, I enjoy your wonderful photos. Especially liked the Daphne bud. I garden because I want to be surrounded by beauty and wonder. I hate to see crepe murder, too.

February 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

If a passion for gardening is genetic, then I am the only one of my 3 siblings that seems to have gotten the genes. My sister in Ireland putters in the garden and my brother loves the outdoors, so perhaps there is a little that was passed down from my Mom (who still gardens at 91).
I am not sure what makes me passionate about gardening. It's a love that has always been there. I started working in my Mom's garden and have never looked back.

February 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Those Hepatica are so beautiful. I think for me gardening is like meditation and yoga rolled into one. A way to feel at peace and in the moment, to lose yourself in the beauty around you. I also like to get my aggression out with some aggressive pruning.

February 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Wanted to let you know that your ever-inspiring garden & blog are the subject of my next week's column for Shelby County Reporter!

February 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlaurab

I am envious of your hepatica. They are beautiful!

Both my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather gardened (the latter more than the former), so maybe that's when my interest started. I have a hosta from my grandmother's garden and used to have iris from my grandfather's garden before the voles ate them. I have always loved nature too, which was fueled at least in part by the crosscountry car trips we took to national parks when I was a kid.

February 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Such an interesting question. Not all people are so passionate about nature and gardening. Lots of my friends aren't. Like the people who've commented above, I've always been interested and gradually it grew into a passion. I love the photos of your garden, Deb, and especially the crinkly petals of the daphne.

February 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

Oh all I could do was sigh as soon as I saw your Hepatica....I am drawn to being in nature....lucky you to be out int he garden. We are getting our fill of nature with walks around the neighborhood although we have been trapped indoors with snow and cold of late.

February 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

Such a lovely post Deb and sorry I am a little late getting to it. I was in cold NYC last week. Your spring flowers are just beautiful! How lucky you are to have so many pretty flowers to let you know spring is on its way. The Winter Daphne and Hepatica are so pretty! I was so happy too, to learn that you don't commit Crape Murder! Its amazing how you see that crime committed everywhere and on such beautiful trees too. I have never understood it. It's amazing isn't it how we are just drawn to gardening. I just can't imagine not being able to go outside and play with plants as it's just such an important part of who I am. It connects us to the past too, I think, as my mother is a great gardener and her mother and grandmother too. I like to think that I can carry on that legacy - even if its in a very modest way.
- Kate xx

February 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

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