Gardening for the Non-Gardener

Gardening for the Non-Gardener

I like gardening.  I like pottering about among the, um, pots and such.  I like watching things grow and bloom and I like having lots of greenery around me.  But, I am sad to say, I am not very good at gardening.  I forget to water things, am slack about repotting the seriously-in-need-of-repotting and I have a tendency to forget I even have a garden.  Which is why succulents are a good choice for me.  I can forget about them, at least a bit, and not have lots of dead plants everywhere.  They are easy to grow and come in all shapes and sizes so you can have a nice little collection of interesting specimens that often have pretty flowers and/or colourful foliage.  The best thing about succulents is that you can grow them from cuttings very easily and propagate more plants from just the leaves.  They are hardy (although it is still possible to kill them – trust me) and withstand a bit of punishment and neglect as long as you follow the basic rules.


I have found that succulents do indeed need to be watered.  While many online guides and gardening books tell you not to overwater them, you do still need to keep them hydrated, especially here in Australia where Summer days are extremely hot.  I have killed one aeonium by letting it get too wet and nearly lost several spiky haworthias by allowing them to dry out too much and get burnt by the full sun.  But on the whole, they are fairly forgiving little suckers and I find that you can muddle your way through their care and keep them pretty happy.


Tomorrow I have to pot up a bunch of cuttings and propagated “babies” that I have had sitting in my bath tub for over a month.  They’re perfectly happy in there – I haven’t even watered them or anything.  But I really need to get them potted up, although I am running out of room on my little outdoor shelves – might have to give some of the plants away or perhaps set up another area to house them.  I have several friends who also grow them, so giving them away won’t be a problem – I could even take some to work and have them in our little courtyard garden there.


I had to repot a very fast-growing kalanchoe “Flapjacks”, with its large, paddle-shaped leaves.  It started out as a small cutting but has grown into three big plants that were crying out for a new pot.  So I did them this afternoon – hopefully they will be happier having a little more breathing room.


I love my little Jelly Bean succulent.  It’s so cute!  It also self-propagates like nobody’s business!  Whenever a leaf drops off or gets knocked off, I chuck it into a nearby pot.  I don’t do anything with it, just leave it to do its thing.  Within a few weeks, there is normally the start of tiny pink roots and not long after that, there is the beginning of a brand new plant.  Amazing!  I love that they are that easy to grow.  I really need to repot my “mother” plant as it is getting way too big for its current pot (which is basically the one I brought it home in).  But it looks healthy and happy enough and has had lots of babies 🙂


Another specimen in need of a much bigger pot is my beloved “Bunny”.  This little cactus makes me smile with its funny little arms and bunny ears.  I think it is waving in a desperate attempt to get me to find it a bigger home.  It has grown so much since I bought it last year at the swap meet.  I keep promising it a new pot (yes, I am one of those weirdos who talks to their plants!) but have yet to get round to doing it.  Tomorrow, hopefully.


I’ve got various pots around the place with cuttings and propagated leaves growing in them.  When they’re big enough I may give them their own individual spot, or leave them to fill the pot they’re in.  I love the little mini gardens people make with various kinds of succulents all in one pot – it’s so lush and pretty.


My other pot plants are also doing well.  I divided, cut back and repotted my poinsettias midway through last year as they were very leggy and a bit pot-bound.  I chopped them back to what amounted to bare sticks, but they are thriving now and have a healthy growth of foliage.  I missed out on their vivacious red colour last Christmas, but this coming year they should be back at their glorious best.  At any rate, I think they look nice even if they’re just green and healthy.


My white geranium, though a bit shabby, is flowering well and I really like the bright white flowers against the dark green foliage.  I’ve always wanted a white one and I’m glad I have succeeded in keeping this one alive and reasonably happy.


My Bay tree is growing at a rate of knots and always stays pretty healthy and glossy.  From a little seedling it has quadrupled in size and has been a welcome addition to my kitchen staples.  Adding a bay leaf to soups and stews really does make a delicious difference.


A couple of months ago the gardener that takes care of the gardens at the front of our properties decided to viciously prune my fishtail ferns and azaleas.  I came home to a savaged, brown patch of garden – horrors!  It looks awful.  I loved my azaleas, and even the fishtail fern (as overgrown as it was) looked lush and green.  Now it looks as though a bushfire went through and desecrated the whole area.  I was hoping it would sprout quickly and grow back, but so far I’ve only got the start of some azalea shoots and the fern has given up entirely.  I hope that after Summer it might all come good again but right now it looks dreadful.  I still don’t really understand why they decided to chop it all down but leave everything else.  I just have an ugly brown patch in the middle of an otherwise green garden.



      So, while I am no “green thumb” and have a lot to learn in regards to keeping a healthy, happy garden, I’m fairly pleased with how it is going.  It’s just nice to have plants around – I keep quite a few inside as well as they brighten the house up and promote a feeling of calm (supposedly!).  I have herbs as well, such as sage and rosemary, parsley and mint.  It’s lovely to be able to pick your own herbs to add to cooking and at least your know where they’ve come from and that they haven’t been treated with any chemicals or other toxic substances.

I’m determined to get the rest of my garden looking ship-shape this year. The soil needs improving, the garden beds need building up and borders formed to stop the soil running away, weeds need to be gotten rid of and the general overall look needs tidying up.  Because I am in a rental, it is easy to get stuck in the “it’s not mine – why should I bother?” rut, but I really need to make an effort and make it more presentable.  One day, if a miracle occurs, I might be able to afford a place of my own – and I want to have a beautiful garden that will be a joy to be in.  For now, though, I enjoy the little pots and courtyard areas that make up my “garden”, and I will continue to potter about, hopefully not killing things, and trying my best to turn my black thumbs to green.  I’m getting there slowly.

Do you have a favourite spot in your garden?  Do you get to potter about in it as much as you’d like?

2 thoughts on “Gardening for the Non-Gardener

  1. Those are some beautiful plants. The nice thing about gardening is if something is pruned too much chances are it will still come back, hopefully. My favorite spot in my garden is a new area I just started last year. It has honeyberries and raspberries as well as a rose bush and various perennials. They are all covered in a nice thick layer of snow right now but are as anxious for spring as I am.

  2. That sounds lovely 🙂 I’m not so good with roses although I am trying to be. Pruning is very cathartic but I think the gardeners at my place went a little overboard with my azaleas and ferns…maybe they had a lot of issues to work through! I do hope they all grow back again soon – I hate seeing the brown, dry patch of ground.

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