A few years back, a party guest asked me for advice on getting started after admiring my garden. Here is my belated and sober response.
The simplistic answer is to just try – it’s OK, as with anything else, gardening takes practice. Identify your space, and then start to figure out the soil, light and moisture conditions. Match plants you like to those conditions. Amending your dirt with soil or compost usually helps before planting.
Beyond that, I learned to garden by:
1) Listening to gardeners. You have friends who garden, so pick their brains. Most love to talk garden. I will feature my gardening mentors on this blog. Some friends served more as motivators, which are just as important.
2) Finding a good local nursery and visiting weekly. Don’t bother the help – learn on your own by reading tags and signs. Word of caution: immature plants can look very different from mature plants.
3) Walking my neighborhood. That’s where I identify mature plants, and plants that go well with others. I also see what I don’t like. It’s great exercise too.
There are other ways to learn – reading gardening books, taking classes, surfing the web or going on garden field trips. I need to and will do more of all these.
In the end, it’s about creating a garden space you like. Much like cooking, do what you like and the finished product will be better.