(nearly) Free Advice

The Idea BedsWhat do you do when you don’t know what to do? Who do you turn to for advice? Your mom? Your best friend? Your life-coach? What if you don’t know what to do in your garden? Who do you turn to then? Over at the Garden Rant blog I found a post and a link to this NY Times article about garden-coaches. Evidently you can pay someone (big bucks) to come to your garden and tell you where your weeds are and cheer you on to “just do it” when you want to rip out those ugly shrubberies but are scared that it’s the wrong decision and you’re worried you’ll regret it forever. Personally, while it’s tempting to try to make some mad money as a coach, I think giving advice is what friends and public gardens are for! Part of Blithewold’s mission is to “teach and inspire” and we fully expect visitors (for the price of admission or an annual membership) to steal ideas from our Idea Beds (and all the other gardens) and use the property as a a living identification key and how-to book and to ask us questions. The North Garden 7-9-07Just this morning a Blithewold member came to the greenhouse wondering how to prune his roses to keep them in bloom. (“Are they repeat bloomers?”, I asked. “ummm… errr…”, he said. But if they are, now he knows what to do!) There are gardeners and groundsmen on the property every week-day, and Sunday afternoons (starting this past Sunday with superstar Gil Moore) there are Garden Docents available in the gardens to answer questions and shoot the garden breeze with visitors. Use us!

All that said, getting a good garden coach to come to your own garden might be just the thing to kick start a passion and sometimes it’s just necessary to hire professionals. This past spring, we asked a water garden guru from Nelumbo Water Gardens in Wickford, RI to fix our cement pond and this weekend the lotus we got from them started to bloom — according to Gil, it was the talk of the day!Nelumbo ‘Mrs. Perry D. Slocum’

6 thoughts on “(nearly) Free Advice

  1. I agree, it would be most helpful if garden centers and public gardens had more visible horticulturists around to answer questions. I’ve gone to one local garden a few times and have yet to see a horticulturist around in the garden, though sometimes they have one inside at a “resource center”. But sometimes having someone come to your garden so they can see what you have, and give advice, or permission (so to speak) to do something is what some people need.

  2. Kris: That makes you a Garden Coach! The gardens at Blithewold are meticulously kept. It might be time to stop by again! That lotus is ethereal!

  3. Carol, I agree – just wish there were more of us able to give it away (which bloggers like you do!). And I know as we horticulturists move around our public gardens we’re probably pretty elusive. With 5 of us on 33 acres, the chances of a sighting are probably pretty slim. And for those visitors who work during the week and visit on the weekends, we’re downright difficult to find on the property. (we do come in to water – but we don’t always linger! – our own gardens beckon)

    Layanee, I think I’m more qualified to be a cheerleader than a coach — I’m all for experiment and saying yay! woo-hoo! to success and failure equally. Hooray for the process and to anyone willing to participate!! Can’t wait to see you here again! Stay cool today…

  4. Hello from the person doing all the cheerleading for garden Coaching, saying YES to public gardens and their good works teaching the public! In Northern Virginia a public garden started its own Master Gardener program and combined, they’re doing amazinig things (Green Springs Garden).
    I say the more good teaching avenues, the better. Websites, cable TV, print, and professionals of all sorts We need to take gardening education, esp. ecogardening education, more seriously than ever.
    And a correction: no big bucks are paid or earned in the world of garden coaching that I know of. Most of my coachees have paid me between $75 and $150 for my entire work with them, including follow-up emails and some question-answering. And they’ve learned enough to keep up and maybe even improve their gardens themselves, without hiring a maintenance company.
    Btw, I attended the APGA conference in DC (posts to follow on GardenRant) and came away a big believer in institutions like yours – well, bigger believer, because I already was.

  5. Thank you so much, Susan for visiting and contributing and cheering! I know we’re on the same side and I think it’s really great that you’ve been able to so successfully mentor new gardeners! And as crass as I am about the money, (it’s all relative) I think it’s awesome that there are people out there who are able and willing to pay their teachers. Three cheers for you for coaching and inspiring others to coach and to all the gardeners out there who just needed that one – little – push!

  6. Thanks for the plug for professional gardeners. I end up doing a lot of coaching for free for friends and other people. Sharing knowledge and ideas is probably one of the best things about gardening for me (both giving and getting). Actually coaching sounds like fun and not having to do the work. 😉

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