Relax, you don’t have to be a “good” gardener | gardening tips
IIt’s that time of year when even the most adamant non-gardeners watch the spring sunshine and the riot of growth unfold outside their windows and feel a stab of curiosity. Yet, I think many of these shy newbies often feel left out of the joys of horticulture because of some deep-rooted cultural myths. Whether it’s memorizing all the complex rules that put you off or the fear of mispronouncing Latin names, here are three ideas we should break free from so we can all enjoy the wonders of the botanical world.
I’ll start with this: even as a botanist for over 15 years, I still find the old guard in horticulture “correcting” my pronunciation of scientific names. It’s weird for a power move attempt, because all it displays is a misunderstanding of why we’re using them in the first place. You see, Botanical Latin is not actually Latin, but a strange mish-mash, including Ancient Greek and a whole host of other languages, from Polish to German, and even nowadays languages like Mandarin. The point of doing it this way was to create a universal naming system to avoid confusion, meaning each plant has a definitive name that anyone in the world can use. So say them as you see fit.
Then there is the notion of “rules”. They can look a bit like horticultural times tables that you have to memorize and if you deviate from them will result in utter death and destruction. What is surprising is that, when scientifically tested, a huge amount of this received knowledge was either found to be ineffective in achieving the stated goals, or even to give worse results. In fact, even though textbooks may portray horticulture as having a universal “correct” answer, all you have to do is bring a bunch of plant geeks to the pub to hear a diversity of viewpoints. , and often a fairly lively debate. With a few exceptions, I think at best we should think of them as “tips and tricks” that might get you better results than strict “rules”. Partly because, I promise you, plants don’t read the rules.
Finally, there is this notion of “real” gardener. Almost every time I learn something fascinating from an incredibly gifted grower, they prefix that knowledge with “but I’m not a good gardener”. You might think that this distinction might refer to someone who does it professionally, or perhaps someone with formal training, but in my experience the term is generally used to refer to anyone who doesn’t does not reflect or reinforce a British class cultural status quo. Culture.
You don’t have rolling acres in Dorset? Not yearning for the aesthetics or ideas of Victorian gardens? Do you have the wrong skin color or the wrong last name? You are probably not considered a “real” gardener. However, this is a good thing because it is the “misfit” gardeners who are more inclined to the kind of open-mindedness and experimentation that drive the practice forward, challenging convention and making crucial breakthroughs. So please don’t let any of these silly psychological barriers get in the way of your horticultural ambitions. Gardening needs you!
Follow Jack on Twitter @Botanygeek