‘Volunteer Gardener’ Winter in the Garden: The Good Enough Garden

Master Gardener Laura Bigbee-Fott urges embracing the “good enough” garden.

Winter is a slow time in the garden. While we can’t spend as much time outside as we might like, we can spend some important time taking stock of our successes, failures and hopes for the new year. In our social media obsessed, fast-paced society, it’s hard not to compare ourselves and our accomplishments to unrealistic pictures of perfect gardens. I will tell you honestly, I’ve posted some truly gorgeous photos of the flowers on my farm, but they were very strategically composed. Comparing ourselves to idealized garden images can make our love of gardening a burden we can never live up to.

When my son was small and I was struggling to balance all my obligations, a friend told me about A Good Enough Parent, a wonderful book by Bruno Bettelheim. This was a revelation to me, so much so that I have applied those lessons to other areas in my life, including gardening.

It’s time to embrace the “good enough” garden.

Start by considering why you garden. Is it to draw wildlife into your garden? Is it for food for your family? Is it simply for pleasure? Do you have a cutting garden? Do you have borders out front for curb appeal? Each of these types of gardens has different measures of “success.”

For me, the end product of cut flowers from my 38,000 square feet of cultivated garden beds is absolutely essential. So what if the grass around the perimeter needs cutting, the fence rows need trimming, and the brush piles need burning? I focus only on the planting, tending and harvesting of the cut flowers and branches – everything else goes on the back burner.

If you have a garden out by your mailbox that you want to keep pristine and carefully weeded, go for it, but perhaps you can be a little more relaxed about your kitchen garden out back.

Remember why you started your first garden. I doubt it was to post perfect photos on Instagram. It was most likely because of the innate joy you felt being outside in nature. Concentrate on that joy.

Oh, and consider a heavy mulch for those weedy spots in your garden. Pile the leaves on now to suppress the weeds and feed the soil; you’ll be happy you did. Be kind to yourself – you’re an important part of nature and the ecosystem, too!

Happy Gardening!


Laura Bigbee-Fott is a Davidson County Master Gardener. She owns Whites Creek Flower Farm and runs a floral event and wedding design business called Everything Blooms.

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