Literary Gardener: Practice intentional gardening at upcoming plant sales

“We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”

— Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,” 1891

Turning 55 this year has prompted me to live my life as intentionally as possible. I have only so much time left on this Earth, and only so much energy, so I want to make each moment count. I don’t want to just drift along.

Living my life intentionally extends to my gardening in several ways. For instance, I’ve written before that I tend to be a plant collector. It’s fun to have a lot of different kinds of plants, but buying on a whim is not deliberate and can become overwhelming when I suddenly have plants that I don’t have time to transfer into the garden and care for properly.

This is a perfect time to practice intentional gardening because April and May are months WHEN several alluring plant sales take place in the Rogue Valley. Thousands of interesting vegetables, herbs and flowers will be on sale to help gardeners kick start their growing season.

It’s hard to resist the temptation to buy too many plants or those that aren’t appropriate for our garden sites. Here, then, are several questions that may be helpful to begin practicing more intentional gardening right from the beginning.

1. Which plants have grown well in the conditions my garden site provides? Which plants have not grown well in these conditions?

2. Which plants should I rotate out of the garden this year to reduce insect pests and disease?

3. How much space do I have in my garden? Which plants, and how many plants, will grow well in the space I have?

4. What is my budget for buying new plants this year?

5. How much time and energy do I have for taking care of the plants in my garden?

6. What do I want my garden to do: produce food, attract pollinators, hide a fence? Which plants will best fulfill my garden goals?

7. Which plants do I enjoy growing the most?

8. Which plants (one or two) do I want to try growing for the first time?

Intentional gardening is all about making choices, and this includes making choices about the kinds of plants and seeds I buy and where I buy them: Do I want to grow plants that support native habitats and wildlife? Do I want to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers that have been cultivated through organic practices? Do I want to buy plants that have been grown locally?

Two local organizations I support through their plant sales are Southern Oregon Historical Society and Jackson County Master Gardener Association. Both of these nonprofit groups raise money by growing and selling plants.

SOHS will host its annual Heritage Plant Sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 28-29 at historic Hanley Farm, 1053 Hanley Road in Central Point. The sale features more than 50 varieties of plants grown at the farm: flowering quince, lilacs, iris, peonies, old roses, hellebores, herbs and more. I’ll be around that weekend, showing folks around the Shakespeare garden I’m planting at the farm. For more information about the SOHS plant sale, see www.sohs.org.

JCMGA’s Spring Garden Fair takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 5 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 6 at the Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point. The JCMGA booth is one of more than 100 garden-related exhibits at the fair, which also features free demonstrations, a plant clinic and more.

For information about the Spring Garden Fair, see www.jacksoncountymga.org.

Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, teacher and writer. Email her at Rnowak39@gmail.com. For more about gardening, visit her blog at http://blogs.esouthernoregon.com/theliterarygardener/.

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