As a child, I admired my mom’s, grandmothers’, and great-grandmothers’ gardens for their beauty, diversity, and productivity. I admired them right up until I was old enough to be tasked with weeding. To this day, I still hate weeding. There is nothing quite as heart-stopping as reaching into a tire housing a tomato plant to pull out a weed and seeing a snake. Many a nightmare was fueled by creepy things I found while weeding flower beds and vegetable gardens.
When I left home for college, I found myself missing having flowers to tend to, so I began doing some minimal container gardening at the various apartments I lived at over the years. I eventually graduated to creating my small home garden once we bought our first house. When we moved into our second house, I literally had a blank slate- a plain, grassy, sloped, East-facing front yard with concrete steps down the middle; one beautiful old lilac out the kitchen window; and a diseased cherry tree out the dining room window. The back yard was almost completely shaded with giant spruce and cedar trees. I will admit that I hired some folks to help with the initial clearing of the slate: grass removal, building of two levels of rock wall, soil, and mulch application.
I then went to work planting all of my favorite things: heirloom roses and peonies, more lilacs (because you can NEVER have too many lilacs), mock orange, honeysuckle, miniature Japanese maples, hellebores, winter daphne, sarcococca, wisteria, iris, crocus, daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, ranunculus, anemone, fritillaries, giant poppies, multiple varieties of grapes, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, and on and on until there was literally only space left for potted and hanging planters. But I still managed to toss some seeds into the ground each year for sunflowers, hollyhocks, snapdragons, sweet peas, and other annual flowers that sometimes came back. I learned by trial and error (a lot of error), and I still hated weeding, but I had begun to appreciate the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a patch and being able to see my work.