When I embarked on my gardening journey at Natchez Glen House in 2007, my experience with plants was virtually non-existent. My only foray had been some knockout roses from Home Depot in Florida. My upbringing wasn’t in a gardening household; in fact, my parents’ approach to yard care often led to lowered neighborhood appeal. So, I certainly didn’t inherit a green thumb.
Professionally, my relationship with gardening was complex, but personally, it became one of my greatest passions, second only to my daughter. My approach wasn’t the typical practical one of filling a space or growing food. Influenced by my professional culinary experience and figures like Anthony Bourdain, I wanted to see if gardening could offer a cultural and experiential richness similar to that of a great restaurant.
Over the past 17 years, Natchez Glen has evolved – from what was initially envisioned as an arboretum to a flower farm, and now, it’s on its way to becoming a world-renowned garden, with a focus on the beauty of peonies. I share this to counter the narrative that gardening is just hard work and maintenance. It’s not. Gardening is an escape from the chaos of everyday life. It slowed me down, which, if you know me, is no small feat. It became a canvas for my creativity, allowing me to explore the flora of Japan, the Himalayas, and Latin America, and to see if they could thrive in Tennessee.
Plants, at their core, possess an innate will to live, mirroring our own instinct for survival. When I write these blogs, I find myself in a quandary – balancing practical gardening advice with the creative spirit that truly drives a garden’s success. I believe that focusing solely on practical aspects like plant diseases limits the joy and exploration gardening offers.
So, if you ever find yourself concerned about maintenance or garden problems, I encourage you to set those thoughts aside. Gardening should be fun and rewarding, not burdened with obstacles. Clearing your mind of these worries is key to enjoying and succeeding in gardening. Let your garden be a place of wonder and discovery, just as Natchez Glen has been for me.