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OPINION – Gardening by Bradley Gionet

Chilliwack – I’m not sure when my love of gardening happened. As a child, living in a suburban Lower Mainland neighbourhood, my parents always had a small vegetable garden. My earliest memories of working outside, was when my father was pruning my mothers roses, and using all the 4 letter expletives in the book. That should have been my warning. Gardening is not for the faint of heart.

Fast forward 30 some years, and I am the guy on Promontory that people stop and want to ask questions about gardening. Questions vary from “how many plants do you have”, “can you ACTUALLY grow that here?” to “How much time and/or money” does it cost to keep your garden up?”. Some of these things I have answers for, others I don’t.
Over the years, my suburban garden style has evolved into a mixture of “Prompton Jungle” and “English Cottage”. A wide variety of annuals and perennials mixed in with blueberries, apples, squash, and other assorted vegetables.
My generation (the Millennials) didn’t seem to embrace gardening like other generations. But some, at least around here, are becoming more interested.

In no particular order, these are some of the tips I give to those starting out with nothing but a pinterest board of what they think looks pretty, and no real world experience tending to the earth:

1) No, you don’t need to hire a professional, but yes, it is a lot of work (unless you are a minimalist that calls two store bought hanging baskets “gardening”.

2) Trust those that do, more than those that sell. I have rarely received good advice from professional garden centres (sorry folks), but the best advice I have received  are from the Granny’s and Grandpas who have been backyard gardening for decades.

3) Start small. A well established garden can take over 10 years to mature.

4) Join Facebook special interest groups like: (4) Gardening in the Fraser Valley | FacebookThis is where you will find real experts who understand our local growing conditions, and freely give advice without financial gain.

5) Speaking of Facebook, it’s a great place to buy, sell, or trade perennials (and sometimes annuals). Buy that $5 plant off bidding wars. When you go to pick it up, you will get blasted with free advice whether or not you requested it.

6) You will kill some plants. That doesn’t make you a bad person.

7) Research invasive species before planting ANYTHING. Invasive Species – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)

8) You don’t have to be a gardener to have a well kept yard. Mowing the lawn and keeping a tidy space are a requirement, gardening is an option. This isn’t for everybody.

9) Find a plant you like, and start a collection of various varieties. It provides consistency to the look of your space.

10) Decide what kind of a gardening style you like, and just go for it. If all else fails, there is always next year!

Now is a great time to hit those road side stands, Dept. Store garden centres, and big name nurseries to get started on your outdoor space for 2021. Roll up your sleeves, get a little dirty, and know that your financial and time investment will pay dividends of joy for years to come.

Bradley Gionet www.instagram.com/thehouseofwittenberg

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