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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – November 28

Once again a post from Lois has stimulated my thinking. In her comment two days ago, she said that her philosophy of Cultivating The Inner Gardener “evolved from trying to figure out what the X-factor was in certain gardens that seemed to resonate with everyone who entered those gardens.”  She goes onto say that a friend asked her how to learn to do that.

Can we show someone how to garden from the heart? Is it possible to convey how to do approach anything at this level? We certainly can teach the mechanics, or the principles behind the topic at hand. Be it gardening, web design, song composition or retail display…there are basic rules that can be explained, but those aren’t what makes the magic. The fundamentals of garden design don’t create the X-factor plantings that Lois was speaking of.

Thinking about what makes the difference between a well-designed garden and that landscape that everyone responds to, I think the difference rests in how that garden evolves and the quantities involved.

Those who garden from the heart are engaged in the process itself. They are interested in their plants on all levels: intellectually, creatively and personally, and because of that interest they are willing to take chances. The end result is important, but the journey is of equal or greater significance.

Secondly, when we’re doing something we love, we tend to go there more often. Plant people put more varieties in their gardens than those who are just designing a functional landscape. I’d venture to say that a small X-factor garden tends to have more plants than the normal yard. Sometimes more is more. Even a minimal planting might have more of a limited palette of plants and everything in that small space will be thoughtfully placed.

So if you want to plant an X-Factor garden that everyone responds to, plant what you love, plunge in wholeheartedly and enjoy the process of discovery more than the outcome.

irwin Ehrenreich's garden illustrates my thinking. The Rose Man ( started out with an interest in roses. His garden reflects his love of the plant, his curiosity and creativity, and the enjoyment of the journey.

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