Confessions of a timid gardener, part 1: Finding resolution

I have many childhood memories of my mom, in her robe, weeding her garden in the early morning sun with her half-full coffee cup haphazardly perched on a rock beside her. She’s a dirt digger and lover, and growing up, I benefited from a home garden of peaches, strawberries, carrots, grapes, beans, and blueberries, as well as flower beds of roses (her favorite), petunias, tulips, lilacs, and wildflowers.

I loved being outside as she worked, and sometimes I’d join her, helping dig the furrows for the seeds, pulling some weeds, and setting up the network of hoses needed to get everything watered.

Me, rocking some 80s fashion by mom’s dwarf cherry tree.

When I left for college, I kept the love of being outside, but no longer had a place to practice gardening. So I didn’t. I would try to do some indoor plants from time to time – perhaps some kitchen herbs – but I never felt I had the knack of it. My older sister loved gardening and had huge success growing things, so I guess at some point I just thought – well, I don’t have the green thumb. So it goes.

Then, about seven years ago, my husband and I bought a house. Suddenly I had a yard and a garden, and I was TERRIFIED of it. I of course wanted it to look nice (don’t want to be THAT neighbor), but had no idea where to start or even what I wanted. Every year, around this time, I usually start experiencing some feelings of anxiety and FOMO because I see many of my nature-inclined friends with garden plans in hand, starting seeds in starter pots, and dreaming of what new plants will make it into their gardens this year. I immediately get imposter syndrome and think I don’t know enough to plan and spend my money wisely. Honestly, in the time we’ve lived in this house, I’ve been successful in not letting things really die, but I don’t think the word ‘thriving’ applies to my garden either.

Perhaps the ONE plant thriving in my garden. Peonies rock.

And then, the ultimate irony: last year I took this job as a water resources educator, and one of the really successful existing programs that I promote is inspiring people to plant native plants in their gardens and on their land.

Hm. So telling people to plant native plants and I feel completely intimidated and inept in my own yard. Right.

Yet, perhaps this is a great opportunity to finally face my fears. This means I am literally the target audience for every conservation partner I work with. If I can somehow convince myself I can do this, perhaps I actually can inspire others who lack confidence on how to move forward with their own garden dreams.

I know this lack of confidence is common enough. One thing I’ve heard from many of the conservation staff I work with is so many people are afraid of doing things wrong, so they want somebody to hold their hand through the process. One staff told me about a resident who hired a designer to help her with planting a pollinator garden and then kicked herself for paying out that money when she saw how simple the process actually was. We just want to know we are doing things ‘right.’

So, dear reader, here starts my journey and my own conservation resolution for 2022. I’m going to put some native plants in my yard this year, and I’m going to take you all along with me for the experience.

I do have some distinct advantages, starting with the fact that I have many co-workers who are incredibly knowledgeable and eager to share their expertise (including one who lives just across the street with her own amazing garden) and in the past 8 months, I’ve become much more aware of the numerous resources out there to help timid people like me take the plunge and plant a native garden.

But ready resources or not, I still have to follow through. For today’s blog, we start with a resolution, but my homework for next time is to look through some of the garden design resources on and Wild Ones– an amazing collection of ‘do it yourself’ related content.

More soon!