Whitney Curtis

3 Things I’ve Learned from My Gardening Mentors

I’ve learned many important lessons about life and plant life since I started gardening a few years ago. There are three tips that always come back and repeat over and over in my mind…

side garden hydrangea and calla

If it’s not thriving, move it. This one must be my Mom’s favorite gardening advice. She casually mentions as she walks by even big shrubs, “if it’s not thriving, just move it!” And she’s right. If a plant isn’t thriving where it is, it’s not magically going to sprout healthy blooms or throw out new, green growth. For whatever reason – sunlight, water, soil condition – the plant isn’t going to make it. You’re better off trying it out in a new spot. If it lives, great! If not, you’ve still got the same sad plant. No harm, no foul. I saw this tip in action last month, actually. I had two dwarf gardenias planted up next to our screened in porch. They happened to be planted next to where the concrete foundation of the porch was creeping into the soil and they never looked healthy – no blooms, no new growth. I kept thinking I’d just give them a little extra fertilizer and one more season and they’d catch on. But Mom wandered by one day and casually mentioned her favorite advice “if it’s not thriving, just move it!” I moved them the next week and BAM! Six blooms and lots of new growth. In a week! Turns out, Mom’s usually right.

Mark it. Last fall, I planted a Virginia Bluebell bulb I ordered from White Flower Farms. I was so excited to receive my first mail-order plant and get it in the ground. I was really ready for those precious blue bell-shaped flowers to lend some much needed color to my early spring shade garden. I knew right where I planted it for about two weeks. The leaves fell and my memory faded. Where exactly, between a hosta and a tree trunk, I planted it was much harder to find six months later. By the next spring, when it was supposed to be blooming, I poked around everywhere for a hint of growth sprouting up. Nothing to be found. I couldn’t find the exact spot so I couldn’t figure out if the root had rotted or been eaten. Lucky for me, Beverly, my childhood nanny turned friend and gardening mentor sent me a four Virginia Bluebells from her own garden. I planted them in a few different places around the garden and the first thing I did was to mark them – even before watering! I’m determined not to lose track of this batch.

It’s better together. This one’s easy. I’ve learned it from Mom, Beverly, and E. Gardening is a hobby better enjoyed in the company of friends and mentors. It’s easier to dig holes, carry containers, shovel the dirt, and even enjoy the blooms… together.

Photo by Whitney of The Curtis Casa
(Side garden: hydrangea, daylily, calla lily)

Categories: Gardening | Tags: , ,
3 Comments

3 Responses to “ 3 Things I’ve Learned from My Gardening Mentors ”

  1. Add weeding to the ‘better together’ list….. it doesn’t seem like work at all and before you know it, everything looks great and you’ve enjoyed a nice visit together.

  2. [...] spring, can only be defined as one word: shady. But I have one sunny garden bed (you can see it here) that gets plenty of light around mid-day. When I was first starting my garden, I used to run [...]

  3. Thanks’. I just moved some Elephoent Ears that were doing bad. I have planted perennials in pots and I need to tag them because this spring I was just about to dump a pot these green leaves popped out.
    Together is good, my husband and I retired at the same time and we love to garden together, he digs the holes and I fill them.