What brought the new gardener to the hobby and what is the goal? The answer to these questions will indicate what should be grown in the garden. A gardener should ask herself what she wants out of a garden. If it's something edible, herbs or vegetables are a good start. If it's to attract hummingbirds or butterflies, that will take her in another direction. Pretty flowers or ease of growing are other criteria people use when planning a garden. A garden that pleases the grower will be easier to begin and maintain.
Choose Easy-to-grow Varieties!
New gardeners should choose easy-to-grow plants for their growing zone. Easy-to-grow varieties include the pelargoniums (often called geraniums), hostas, and sunflowers. Herbs that grow easily include any variety of mint and chives. Tomatoes are easy to grow even in pots and come in many varieties. One trick is to ask friends what they grow and why they grow it; their answers are often useful. The internet is also a good resource for basic plant information and tips.
New gardeners should not attempt to start an entire plot by seed, or fill up your entire lawn or patio with greenery. If they start too big, they'll likely become overwhelmed and possibly fail in the endeavor. Instead, new gardeners should start small and slowly expand each year. It is best to buy from a local gardening center instead of starting from seed. The new gardener's mantra should be: Small now, Big Later.
Have a long-term goal!
Gardeners should think about want they want their garden space to look like in a few years and the steps needed to get there. Knowing that every step achieved is a step closer to a dream garden makes starting small easier. This year, it's cleaning up the area. Next year, digging a space and mulching. The year after that, planting some perennials. And so on it should go until the goal is reached. A new gardener often finds either that they love gardening and wish to plow ahead, or that the job isn't for them and that they don't wish to repeat the process again.
Above all, a new gardener shouldn't worry about perfection or prize-winning results at the beginning. Instead, they should seek to enjoy the creation, wherever they've created it. As with any other hobby or skill, practice and knowledge mastery are required, which takes time. New gardeners should be prepared for failure, because it will allow them to get one step closer to success. Greenery can be a source of joy and gardening is a hobby worth cultivating. Choose what to plant carefully and enjoy the process.
(c) Poppy Lynch has been helping beginner gardeners for over 15 years.