When Did Gardening Begin for Me?
My paternal grandmother loved plants, mainly tropical plants. She lived in Key West for many years and was part of the Key West Garden Club in West Martello. I grew up watching her tend to her many flowers and plants all of my life until she passed away in 2004. As a young adult, I began tinker with my houseplants and eventually started with flowers outdoors by planting a 3-in-1 butterfly bush I purchased from Michigan Bulb in the early 2000s.
At that point, I was probably known more for killing plants than making them live or thrive. I had to bring sick and dying ones to my grandmother and ask her to help me save them. She was always kind to me, but she taught me valuable gardening lessons I carry with me today.
I do not garden from a scientific perspective. I am no horticulturist. I flower garden from a place of heart mixed with instinct, intuition, trial and error, and my grandmother’s wisdom. I listen to my flowers. I listen to the soil. I listen to what they need from me and provide it to them in the best way I know-how.
Does this mean I never kill plants anymore? Not! I am always trying to plant something new I’ve never done before and stretch my boundaries and knowledge base. Learning does not come without a cost.
My Garden Now
Currently, I have three raised beds that I use for flower gardening and two beds made from a tree that was split in two and hollowed out by my late father.
My split log beds are about 6″ wide at the widest points and approximately 5 ½’ in length. I have one raised bed that is 4′ X 8′ and one 2′ X 8′. My third is circular (well, it used to be circular until the lawn mower reshaped it into something odd) and is about 4′ in diameter.
I am working on doing my flower gardening 100% renewable and sustainable practices. I practice a type of gardening that some call high-density or high-intensity gardening. This method permits me to pack many different flowers together in a small confined space and still get fabulous results. This type of gardening is not for everyone, though, because it requires a lot of maintenance, especially here in the south if we are experiencing droughts. As I have set up in the chicken run, I work with solar power and rainwater in my gardens as much as possible to avoid using any commercial type of water or electricity for my gardening needs.
I have one more garden that I created in 2021. Well, it started as a dream a few years back, but I neglected it and felt like I could never succeed because I didn’t have much money. I had about six rose bushes, four still there today. And then, in 2021, I added 13 more roses in addition to the wild Sweet Briar rose that grows along the northern fence of the rose garden.
This year (2022), I also have butterfly bushes, Russian Sage, Spirea, and hydrangea in my rose garden. I am sure I will add more roses and some more complimentary flowers over time. I have a greenhouse down there in the center. Still, I am swapping it out for a covered patio/gazebo in 2023 with patio furniture and mosquito netting. Again, I will use solar power to provide lighting and a small ceiling fan.
I love to watch the bees, butterflies, and birds enjoy my flower gardens as much as walking through them a few times a day. I typically don’t pick my flowers and put them in vases except for family members or occasionally myself. It feels selfish to take them indoors from outside where all the creatures of nature can enjoy the best.
People always comment on how often they hear birds singing in my flower videos and reels on social media. They always sing because I provide them a happy place to live and be daily!