Our youngest daughter is getting married this Saturday! There -- I said it without getting emotional (this time). Rebecca met Haydon from Texas and they are getting hitched. (I had to say that because he is from Texas -- the cowboy state!). She even bought a pair of cowgirl boots and is wearing them to the wedding -- a Texas tradition.
I want to celebrate our little girls milestone, so I am imagining what a garden would be like if it had her personality. We recognize butterfly gardens, vegetable gardens, etc. What would a Rebecca Garden look like?
Rebecca likes to make new friends, especially long distance on the Internet. She introduced us to friends across the U.S. and in other countries. I reckon everyone needs new friends occasionally. This keeps life interesting. This is true in the garden as well. Of course, you will want to select new garden friends carefully. Not all garden friends are equally friendly.
These publications can help you select new plant friends for your garden. When selecting plants, buy plants that are adapted to your growing conditions. Select plants that can grow in USDA Zone 8b. Find plants that match the size of your planting site as well as matching the sunlight, water (or lack thereof) and the care your site will receive. Rebecca makes sure her friends match our family values. You can find good garden friends by visiting these sites and selecting plants that match your garden:
UGA Trial Garden: http://ugatrial.hort.uga.edu/
UGA publications: http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/
A Rebecca Garden would have something good to eat. She likes to eat some fruits right from the plant. She may have inherited this from my father who said that there was no reason to plant something if it was not edible. Edible plants do grow well in many types of gardens. Mix a few edibles in with your flowers, shrubs, containers, etc. Some edible plants can actually be quite ornamental. Try lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, cabbage, eggplants or sunflowers. Many fruits and nuts are ornamental including blueberry, Oriental persimmon, peach and pecan. Some people even bonsai certain fruit trees.
Rebecca would also point out that every small creature could be a potential new pet. Her pets have included cats, dogs, a hamster, chickens, hermit crabs, snakes, birds, butterflies, a rabbit, tadpoles and hundreds of fish. We gathered several pets from the wild. Another person may call it a pest, but we may call it our pet.
Gardeners could learn something from Rebecca. Not all insects and wildlife are pests. Even if something is eating a plant, it still might not be such a problem that it needs to be killed. That caterpillar we let eat on our plant could be a butterfly soon. Bees, wasps and spiders may startle us, but they also eat other insects. Rebecca and I once stood next to a spiders web and fed it small insects. It was fun! Put up with a little plant damage if you can and enjoy watching the wild things and see if you can turn a pest into a pet.
A Rebecca Garden would have a sign that says, Please Pick the Flowers! When our girls had a shared pansy bed, Rebeccas side was constantly being picked. And her pansies responded by blooming even more!
Picking flowers can actually be helpful to plants. When you pick off the flowers and seed heads, it encourages new flowers. This is called deadheading. So, feel free to pick the flowers in Rebeccas Garden!
In a Rebecca Garden, you need to appreciate the little things. Turn over a rock and look for critters. Watch the birds and bugs. Turn the cat loose in the garden and see what he does -- we can usually fix the damage he causes. Gardening (and life) is meant to be enjoyed, so look for the fun wherever it is.
As our little one begins a new chapter in her life, I remember the joy I had in sharing her life for 20 plus years. It is time to share this joy with the lifelong partner she discovered. God bless them as they grow and nourish their love for him and for each other.
Willie Chance retired as the University of Georgia Extension agent for Houston County and is the quality control manager for Unique Landscaping of Warner Robins. Contact him at 929-1997.