“Your yard is beautiful!” I think every gardener enjoys a compliment and there is a good feeling that comes when you know that your friends and neighbors enjoy your garden almost as much as you do. When someone praises my garden I share this story with them. When I was twelve years old my parents took me on a trip to Epcot Center. I got interested in growing things after seeing the beautiful landscaping and fascinating concepts in action such as growing Tomatoes hydroponically. When we got home from that vacation I told my parents I wanted to learn how to garden. I was very fortunate that they were more than willing to let me do it and I learned all that I know now because of the mistakes that my parents allowed me to make.

The Billy Joel song “Second Wind” talks about “learning more from your accidents than anything that you can ever learn in school.” It is certainly debatable if this statement is totally true, but making gardening mistakes when I was a kid helped me create a landscape that surrounds my home today. For example, that first year I convinced my Dad to order a flower that is known as Alyssum Saxatile, but I referred to it as “Golden Alyssum”. The gardening catalog picture took me in and I planted it that spring with great anticipation.

Unfortunately, being a “newbie” and in my haste to start planting I didn’t read the seed package description for the plant and failed to realize that although I was planting it in the spring it wouldn’t actually bloom until the following year. I planted it and when it didn’t bloom forgot all about it. In the fall when I cleaned up the yard I thought that it was a weed and pulled it. I only realized this many years later when I saw the plant in my local garden center and realized what I had done. This one mistake taught me a lot of things that every gardener needs to learn:

  • Always read the seed catalog description closely to know what you are buying and things such as is the plant an annual, biennial, or perennial.
  • Read the seed package directions thoroughly.
  • Make more than a mental note of where you plant things that you may need to wait patiently to bloom. You can also use plant markers like these. 
  • Learn to identify what the seedlings of a plant really look like. The seedlings can look much different than the mature plant that will follow and knowing what the seedlings look like can help you avoid doing what I did when I pulled the plants thinking they were weeds.

I’m sure that like me, you’ve probably made your share of mistakes too. Why not share your stories on our blog or Facebook page.

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