I love what I do. I love plants, I love gardens, I feel a great pride in my knowledge and abilities.
Why then do I feel so numb to it all at the moment?
This is regular thing for me every July; it’s as though I reach the point where I’ve peaked and I can’t muster the energy, emotional and physical, to keep pushing onwards.
It’s been a strange year.
It’s always a strange year in the garden. What is a ‘normal’ year? Do I expect a year where everything goes to plan? Do I expect to get through Magnolia season without a frost, to go through summer with the right amount of rain every night but easy weather to work in every day? That would truly be an exceptional, and very odd, year indeed!
I tell other gardeners that we must go along with what fate gives us. If we’re growing a diverse range of plants then we will usually get good years for some things but not others every single year. A nice mild spring might well be good for Magnolias but it then might well translate into a problematic season for roses, for example.
I know this, and I’m sure you know this too. I think it’s the experience of most gardeners, but it’s one of those things it’s good to say out loud just to reinforce it in our own minds.
I think part of my garden fatigue is down to horticulture as a hobby and a job. There’s that famous quote, attributed to a number of different people, that says “find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I used to subscribe to this idea but I’m not so sure now.
Can you love something but grow tired of it for a time?
Problems arise when your life revolves completely around that thing. When the inevitable annual fatigue comes along you’re trapped until you find your way back to how you should be.
I’ve come to realise that this isn’t actually a bad reflection on me. During past slumps I’ve contemplated other careers, but what would I do? I’m an outdoor person who likes plants, so logically I’m in the right career.
There are too many challenges and variables beyond our control for us to not be able to “take the rough with the smooth” as they say. A good season is great for our garden, and yet a good season for us is usually a good season for the weeds and other things that keep us busy. If we’re lucky then a bad year for the garden means we can afford to let things slide, although we usually spend our time trying to salvage order from the chaos. It’s all so tiring.
Certainly writing for you wonderful GardenRant readers has helped me out a lot; having a writing slot here encourages me to think beyond whatever it is I’m doing for work, and that can only be helpful. Also your kindness in taking time to comment is very much appreciated.
I have a plans to shake out some of the work I’m doing, and I hope this will help me find a bit more hope and optimism. A few of the people I’ve been working for have become unreliable and I can’t afford, emotionally more than financially, to put up with that any more. It’s time to make changes to my work.
I must also personally come to terms with this annual lull; it’s a challenging few weeks to push through but it is only a few weeks. Things will get better. At least there’s one type of therapy I can use that will work and is available 24/7: retail therapy. Excuse me while I go and browse second hand gardening books online…