I’m guessing that if you are here you may be new to gardening.
If you are, then you are in exactly the right place, because this is the first in a series on gardening for beginners – Becoming a Gardener.
Maybe you have recently acquired a property with a garden for the first time. Or perhaps you can finally turn your attention to a garden after renovating a house.
Maybe your kids have grown and your garden has fairly suddenly gone from being a playground or a football pitch to a place of serenity that you actually enjoy being in.
Perhaps you’ve started thinking about ways you can improve your garden or about how it would be nice to have the kind of garden you see in magazines or on TV. Maybe you’ve begun to clear some space in overgrown garden beds and planted a few small plants.
I also suspect that you might be here because, out of almost nowhere, you have recently developed a kind of gnawing interest in all things gardening related.
Suddenly, you’ve start noticing every garden you pass. You keep finding yourself wondering what this plant is called or whether that plant would grown in your garden.
You’re watching the gardening shows on TV.
Maybe you’ve found yourself discussing gardens for the first time with a friend and you found out, something you didn’t previously know, that she is an avid gardener.
If any of these situations describe you, then it looks like you may have been, or are about to be, bitten by the gardening bug.
And if you have, then you’re very lucky, because the gardening bug, along with a few notable allies like the ladybird and the lacewing, is what gardeners call a beneficial insect.
It is good for your garden and, in turn, it is good for you.
A gardening education
Gardening is a broad topic, covering everything from growing a moss garden to planting a wood, from raising seeds to designing a whole new outdoor vista.
It involves interacting with and gaining an appreciation of the earth and its oil, with the trees and plants growing in the soil, with the insects and animals in and around those trees and plants and with the climate and weather that all those things are exposed to.
It is a rich and ever changing subject with a history dating back for centuries and with a culture and language all of its own.
But the beauty of gardening is that despite all that scale and depth, all you really need to start gardening is a seed and maybe a yoghurt pot with some soil in it.
When you become a little more adventurous, maybe all you’ll need is a packet of seeds and a patch of soil.
As you develop, you might acquire a trowel and a watering can and you might pay a few dollars for some plants.
All the while you can learn a little bit more and try your hand at new gardening tasks and techniques.
Who knows, you might win medals at your local garden club or win a gold at the Chelsea Flower Show.
If you are anything like me, you’ll end up with a shed full of tools and be a favoured customer at your local nursery as you hunt down ever more exciting and unusual plants.
Much more importantly, as you continue gardening you’ll find that you have developed some skills and an interest that will sustain you throughout your life.
Gardening will bring you into contact with like minded people, it will keep you fit and healthy and provide you with endless moments of satisfaction and a feeling of work well done.
And this applies whether your main interest is in growing fruit and vegetables, in developing a whole new ornamental garden or in raising plants of one particular species that you fall in love with.
A garden is never finished and the path to horticultural knowledge never ends. That is why a garden and gardening can sustain you for the fullest length of your life.
Move on to Step 1 in this series, which is all about how plants grow – click here.