Mary Ann Miles in a small portion of her garden which has grown over the years.
By Emmy Ulmschneider and Debbie Roland, Master Gardeners
Many people do not become gardeners until the second half of their lives. It may have to do with the lack of time or money or just the evaluation of what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
As we get older most of us want to connect with nature. Some of us become bird watchers or decide to visit the state parks or travel to see other places the earth has to offer. The world is open to us and we now have time to see it. Others decide to become gardeners and find that it gives them peace.
We are past the time when we need perfection, which is good if you are gardening. There will be a few failures, but you learn from that and it makes the beautiful successes worth the work.
If you decide this might be your cup of tea, here are a few suggestions.
First, ask for help when you need it. There are always people you can call or information you can access. Try the local Master Gardener website listed below. If you need help unloading your purchases, ask for help. Other gardeners are great about this!
Second, realize your limitations both physically and mentally. Gardening should be something you enjoy and use to relax. Decide what you can do and start small. You can always expand later. Keep it simple. It won’t be no maintenance, but you can plant a beautiful low maintenance garden and yard.
Next, you want your area to be sustainable. I sometimes struggle with that, both knowing what it means and how to do it but have decided it is just keeping sync with Mother Nature. You will want to plant your beds “heavy”, meaning you don’t want room for weeds to grow. Remember, weeds will not usually grow under a plant. Make the most of your water, whether it is rainwater or water from your faucet. I know we write a lot about saving water, but we all have to do our part. Think about Mother Nature and how things grow there. She knows what she is doing and following her lead will send you in the right direction.
Be sure you plant for the pollinators. They are dependent on us and there are many native plants that serve this purpose. Always remember: no bees, no food. Besides helping the earth, these plants will add beauty to your yard. Check out our website for pollinators that thrive in West Texas.
One of our local Master Gardeners, Mary Ann Miles, began gardening when she retired. She took the Master Gardener course which led to her starting a small garden on the vacant lot she owns adjacent to her house. Now the garden is her passion (see pictures below) and the garden has taken up the entire lot and her yards.
If you have never considered yourself an “artist”, now is the time. Gardening can let you show your creative side. You may not even know you have one.
If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.
Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org. Click on “Resources”.