The art of crafting a garden is one of the most fulfilling and sometimes hair pulling endeavors to embark upon. Clean lines, starting small and including plants you love is a good place to begin. But when choosing plants count on the emotional takeover of the five f’s: flowers, fragrances, flavors, fauna and family. They are a convincing set of plant selection lobbyists.
We all have flowers we love for our own particular reasons, many of them pertaining to the remaining f’s. Your grandmother grew it, it’s perfect in salads, the fragrance takes you to another world, igniting memories or you simply love the hummingbirds, honeybees and other critters that visit your garden because of the flowers you grow. Or it may be the interweaving story told by a particular plant and, in turn, the story it tells about you.
Case in point, my grandmother. She was one of my first teachers. She taught me how to be in nature, to wildcraft, to garden and to paint. We went on long walks where she would point out edible mushrooms, berries to pick along with other treasures and finally were punctuated with calling the cows in for the night. She loved me without question and I adored her beyond words and with her came her favorite everything, especially plants, starting with the five f’s. They are now my plants and more. With them comes all of the emotion and personal attachment from her years of working with them now added to my own.
I believe it’s nearly impossible to be immune to the f’s. We each have our stories, our people and our plants — including the ones we have yet to meet. That’s why, in part, going to the nursery, walking through particular gardens or broader landscapes reach us and speak to us on a multitude levels.
The five f’s are defining and wonderful but they can also muck up the works and prove confusing when you’re attempting to put together a cohesive planting plan or you’re facing a mound of seed packets — more than can be planted in your budding garden. It’s also important to remember that many plants aren’t generalists but designed to grow in particular soils and climates. My advice: breath, prioritize, assess your location as objectively as possible and relish in the chaos.