Somebody asked me the other day if I had gotten my garden in. The question took me a little aback. I’m never without a garden, even in January, because ornamentals are year-round enterprises and even in winter, things like Siberian kale and parsley are possible, with the help of cold frames.
But I knew what she meant — had I gotten my vegetable garden in? I have, but that’s always a work in progress, in or out of season, and veggies are only part of what matters to me out there in the yard. I can’t eat ‘em but I love my sweetspires, astilbe, goatsbeard and hodgepodge collection of several hundred shrubs, grasses and perennials, not to mention the few young trees we’ve put in (even though we’re sitting right next to woods).
I don’t dedicate much real estate solely to vegetables. Instead, ornamentals and edibles share their various spaces with each other: The peas are flowering next to a rose hedge. A shady bank of perennials near the kitchen door contains parsley and chives. The potatoes are tucked into a hill next to the compost pile. Coneflowers, shasta daisies, bee balm and joepye weed flank the tomatoes and squash. Every year the blueberry bushes duke it out with the butterfly bushes for who can take up more space. And, of course, it doesn’t have to be a question of either/or: you can have pretty and edible garden beds.
So I loved reading in Garden Rant, one of my favorite gardening blogs, that too much focus on “recession gardens” (growing vegetables to save money) could diminish — in new gardeners’ eyes — the value of ornamental gardens and, more importantly, of gardening itself. I couldn’t agree more. Saving money while we garden is a good thing. Gardening only to save money means we miss out on the great joys of this most wonderful of endeavors.