Many Reasons to Garden

So many reasons to garden: I’m struck this summer by the number of reasons people garden. Sometime in the last year I gave a division of Echinops ritro to my friend and fellow MG, Katie, who has two small children. She just told me how much she’s enjoying watching it bloom this summer.

Apparently every time her 2 1/2 year old son, Charlie, sees it covered in bees he thanks them for doing their job. I happen to know Katie also built a huge vegetable bed this spring and that in the past year she planted the ornamental foundations of the yard she and her husband bought a few years ago. I was happy to observe her taking her time to really see where the light and rain were in her yard, as well as what things outside her yard she wanted to hide from her view, before she rushed into planting. It’s a pleasure to see her yard beginning to take shape, and to see the birds and bees find their own homes there. Katie comes from a food growing background so I wasn’t surprised to see how much space she’d given to food in her yard. I know it’s important to her to allow her kids access to real food and the ways it’s grown. She alone offers plenty of examples of the reasons we garden.

Unlike Katie, I’m not a food gardener, although I have been over the years. Mostly my yard is a collection of ornamental plants and I’m enough of a plant snob that I don’t grow too many things that are in most of the yards I see. I’m curious to see what plants are being overlooked by the general gardening public, and to see how we might broaden our scope beyond rhododendrons, iris, and lilacs to create gardens that offer interest throughout the year. I often use the pulpit of my MG volunteer work to encourage people to discover as they plant their yards.  For me, the joy of exploring city-sized ornamentals that accommodate our weather and my own micro-climate is enough reward, although this year I’m determined to make a pie from the purple berries of Luma chequen.

Saturday August 20th is the Neely Homestead Demonstration Garden 10th Anniversary open house from 10-2. The Neely garden is a jewel in Kent highlighting various MG gardening techniques, and perfectly marrying the reasons both Katie and I garden. To me, its most fascinating mission is to grow plants appropriate to the period in which the Neely family settled the Kent Valley. The ornamentals at the Neely Homestead were all grown in Northwest gardens in the early 1900s–its own interesting history lesson–including the Araucaria araucana, which were given out as part of the South American exhibition at the 1905 world’s fair in Portland. Go check it out and see if you’re not inspired by the beauty of the garden, as well as the dedication of the MGs who work there.

A week later, August 27th, is the 2nd Annual Shorewood High School Culinary Arts Program and Garden Harvest Dinner.  For those of us who went last year, the anticipation for this year’s dinner is high.  The Shorewood project is a straightforward food garden supported by MGs and many other community groups. The unique feature of the garden, though, is its attachment to the culinary arts program at Shorewood HS where students learn not only to cook, but about the culinary industry in general, as well as nutrition, and now growing food.  Check it out and see if, like the MGs at Neely Homestead, the volunteers don’t inspire you to consider other reasons to garden.

The WA State MG Foundation annual continuing education conference is coming up September 22-24 in Ocean Shores.  The seminars at this year’s conference seem to perfectly reflect our varied interests in King County and around the state.  We can attend lectures on food growing, pest diagnosis and control, the role of MGs in protecting the health of our shared waterways, turf care, weather, geology, organizing plant sales and garden tours.  The conference is a handy way to pack a year’s worth of CE credits into a couple days, as well as a fun way to meet MGs from around WA state passionate about learning and sharing gardening ideas.  Check out the online registration form and class offerings.  I’m certain it will remind you of more reasons to garden.


Whatever our motivations, there’s something we share as gardeners.  Aren’t we all committed to exploring the reality of our shared planetary life?  As continuing learners, and creative people, MGs reflect this in ways constantly inspiring to me.   Bees, water, vines, dinner…so many reasons to garden.


Click here to Ask Gardening Questions.

Help if you are having trouble signing in. Extension programs and employment are available to all
without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may
Website issues? Contact the Webmaster. be reported through your local Extension office.

Copyright © 2021 Master Gardener Foundation of King County, All Rights Reserved. Web Design by FWD»