A passion for gardening | Garden Life

If you are reading this column, you may be the one out of four people who love gardening as a pastime.

Whether you plant up a couple of nice pottery pieces to place near your front door, or feed your family from a vegetable plot in the back yard, you are in good company.

What is it about gardening that makes you plant in a fevered rush in spring, and carry wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of mulch to enrich the soil that feeds your plants?

What makes you go outside and sweat buckets of perspiration from the hard work you do tending your garden?

Why do you feel wonderful after a full day of flexing every muscle in your body, tending a garden?

I have people question my motives for having a garden, and I too have thought what is it about gardening that brings such joy to many?

Granted, not everyone feels this way. Some hate the work, but do it so their garden will keep up appearances. I am not writing about those gardeners. I am talking to you, the one that chases after a rare plant. You, the one who swoons over the foliage of the mayapple Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ and willing to pay top dollar for it.

I am also talking to the ones that are constantly pulling plant tags out of their washing machines because you stash them in your pant pockets and forget to take them out. I am especially talking to anyone that has asked for a dump truck load of manure for their birthday.

You are most likely outside preparing your beds for next spring. You know it is far easier to prep that bed now while it is dry and warm, then to wait until spring when the soil is soggy, and the weather is miserable with too much rain.

You also know that now is a good time to create a new garden area by simply laying down thick layers of newspaper and adding a profuse amount of compost on top. By spring, that garden soil is thick with busy worms doing the tilling for you.

You love the challenge of growing difficult plants and you will nurture a difficult to grow plant just for the bragging rights.

You love Himalayan blue poppies not only for their sky blue flower petals, you know not everyone can grow them. Its common name may be a mystery to you, yet you definitely know its botanical name as Meconopsis grandis.

You hold no misgivings about ordering Delphinium seeds from a company in New Zealand, or rare seeds from European seed houses.

You belong to garden societies and clubs, seed and plant exchanges, and you have joined many Facebook garden groups.

You cultivate friendships with fellow gardeners, because they understand the garden jargon. Their eyes will not glaze over when you say Melianthus major. They know you are talking about the gray-blue honey bush. In addition, garden friends help each other celebrate their overabundant propagation programs, such as – all my cuttings rooted, oops I planted too many seeds again, and the inevitable I have no more room to dig in more divisions of my plant divisions. Here, have some.

You seek out warmer microclimates in your garden so that you can grow marginally hardy plants as an experiment. Your plants grow for a number of years until that once in a decade cold spell happens and terminally mows them to the ground. The following year you are ready to push the hardiness limits again in your climate zone experiments, while in total denial of past failures.

What is wrong with you? Nothing serious – you have a passion for gardening. You are a plantaholic. The Urban Dictionary defines plantaholic as “Anyone who has an addiction to plants and cannot get enough of them in all their horticultural marvels.”

Most likely, you will not pursue a cure. You do not need one. You may be healthier mentally and physically than other individuals who do not like getting their fingernails filthy.

I am a self-proclaimed plantaholic; and an accused enabler. On that note, I leave you with the evergreen dogwood (Cornus capitata) is a beautiful tree to seek out for four seasons.

This tree has common names such as Bentham’s cornel, evergreen dogwood, Himalayan flowering dogwood, and Himalayan strawberry tree, the dogwood has more common names than a serial divorcée!

The flowers start out creamy-white and mature to a pink. The beauty of the evergreen dogwood for fall is the large strawberry-like fruits. The fruit is edible but bland.

— Debbie Teashon photographs and writes about gardening in the maritime Pacific Northwest. She is co-author and photographer of “Gardening for the Homebrewer: Grow and Process Plants for Making Beer, Wine, Gruit, Cider, Perry, and More.” She is also editor and web master of Rainy Side Gardeners. Contact her at debbieteashon@rainyside.com.

The evergreen dogwood (Cornus capitata) is a beautiful tree to seek out for four seasons. (Debbie Teashon)

The evergreen dogwood (Cornus capitata) is a beautiful tree to seek out for four seasons. (Debbie Teashon)