By Susan Martin for Proven Winners Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
What comes to mind when you hear the word “gardening?” Some immediately think of hard work: tilling the soil, pulling the weeds, planting crops, getting your hands dirty. Others consider gardening to be a way to reconnect with nature after a stressful day at work, a way to help feed pollinators, a means to be able to grow what they eat, or an artistic expression of oneself. No matter your answer, we should all have one reason in common: Gardening is fun!
There has never been a time in history where there were so many options for gardeners. The diversity of plant material available, the tools used to garden, containers and accessories for decorating, are more prolific than ever before and thanks to a global economy, they are available from every corner of the world. It is an outdoor decorator’s paradise! Virtually everything you use to decorate indoors is now available in durable outdoor materials, from rugs to lamps, luxurious outdoor seating options, glazed ceramics and rustic metals, full outdoor kitchens--it’s all available at your fingertips.
Thanks to sites like Pinterest, Houzz, YouTube and Facebook, a plethora of ideas and inspiration is available 24/7 online. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just beginning your foray into outdoor decorating, you’ll find achievable, fun gardening projects on these sites. The Proven Winners’ Gardener’s Idea Book is another popular place for gardeners to get inspired with fresh new ideas every year. It’s available for viewing online or you can request your own free printed copy here. While you’re at it, sign up for the free online newsletter from Proven Winners to have ideas delivered directly to your inbox each month.
Spring is the perfect time to attend gardening events which offer the chance to connect with likeminded people and learn from gardening experts. Two Outdoor Living Extravaganzas will be hosted by Proven Winners this May in Illinois and West Virginia (learn more and register here). These highly anticipated events get gardeners excited for spring and send attendees home with a free bag of goodies. End the season by rewarding yourself with a trip to the Grand Garden Show at the historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI. This sell-out event draws people from across the country for a magical experience on this enchanting island where the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed.
Gardening doesn’t have to be an intimidating task. If you’re new, take baby steps and break projects down into manageable pieces. Make it your goal to plant just one or two containers for your front stoop or balcony this weekend. Not sure what to plant? No problem—just use this container recipe tool to find the combination that fits your style and then buy local or online. Or save yourself some time and get instant good looks by potting up a pre-made hanging basket combo into your own container (here’s how to do it).
If you have an established garden, consider sprucing things up a bit this year by pulling out your least favorite plants and replacing them with something more colorful. If you haven’t gone shrub shopping in the last ten years, you will be astounded by the sheer diversity of shrubs available today. The same rings true for perennials, once known for blooming just a few weeks per year, many now boasting three seasons of interest. Use the advanced search tool by Proven Winners to find just the right new plants to fit the cultural needs of your space and the look you’re going for.
No matter how long you’ve been gardening, it’s important to remember that we are always learning, everyone makes mistakes and that’s how we become better gardeners. Do your best to give your plants what they need (here’s how to decode a plant label), and watch them grow. If you pay close attention, your plants will tell you whether or not they are happy with the home you’ve provided. Don’t be afraid to move them if necessary--we all do it and it’s perfectly okay to do so. If it didn’t work, try something different next time.
One of the most rewarding things about gardening is being able to share the joy your garden brings with others. Take the time to invite family, friends and neighbors over to smell the lilacs, picnic on the freshly mown grass and laugh around the fire pit. It is these experiences that make it all worthwhile, and that you will remember fondly as you scrub the dirt out from under your fingernails.
Ten Ways to Have Fun Gardening with Proven Winners
Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is a lifelong gardener and perennial specialist with 18 years of experience in the Horticulture Industry. She is a native of Michigan where she has been gardening since the age of four in sandy and clay soils.
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