How To Think Like A Gardener!

Gardening can be so technical. Plant this in spring, prune that in autumn. Although these rules can have a bad reputation for erring on being stifling, they are also necessary. It is possible, nonetheless, to embrace both a technical as well as a more unfettered mindset in your approach to gardening. 

If it is true that we are what we think, then our gardens must be a representation of our thoughts too, in a sense. Perhaps how mindful we are, how liberated, how caring and expressive. Why not try out a different spin to your gardening mindset - you never know where the path may lead you! Let’s look at some mental shifts that could apply to gardening.


“If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed.” - Russell Page

It surely is convenient to “Google” anything and everything. But what did people even do before the internet? They had to find out for themselves by observing and learning through trial and error.

Walk through your garden and notice the small things. Are the leaves of certain plants wilting slightly in warmer weeks, while others don’t? Do particular species planted in certain proximity to each other tend to have higher instances of mildew?

Notice how environmental factors like moving shade, heat, wind and seasonal changes affect your garden. It is possible to learn things about the individual plants in your garden by watching them closely and getting to know them.

Get yourself a beautiful gardening notebook to keep track and populate it any way you want: with sketches, photos, clippings, pressed leaves and flowers, and of course your all-important notes with insights from your observations.


“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” - Janet Kilburn Phillips

Let’s get nerdy! The natural conditions of your particular garden may seem uncontrollable to you and look, some of them might well be. Sometimes you just have to let Mother Nature have her way. Yet, gardeners have figured out that with some clever intervention you might be able to influence certain things to get your own way too every now and then. 

An example: A particular plant is thriving in a specific patch of garden while the same species just won’t grow nearby. There could be many reasons, but one of the most significant might be the pH and type of the soil.

Gardeners don’t get intimidated by terms like soil pH or give up growing what they want to grow because of a discrepancy between the pH of the soil and the requirement of a plant. Gardeners get curious and industrious.

They buy a Garland Soil pH Meter that provides a quick and easy way to measure the pH of your soil. Adding lime can make your soil more alkaline while sulphate of ammonia can make it more acidic. It’s science, and it’s fun! Keep measuring the pH of your soil with your Garland Soil pH Meter until it meets your requirements.

As a gardener, it is your prerogative to embrace the cards you were dealt with by nature or make the necessary changes within your power to suit your needs. What other challenges do you face in your garden that you could perhaps solve with a bit of investigation and experimentation?

Conserve and sustain

“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that… as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. - Michael Pollan

Gardeners think green in more ways than one. Consider all the elements and activities that make up your gardening and think of ways you could make small changes to embrace more of a cyclical process between your garden, your home and your lifestyle.

Look after your body by eating more from your garden. Care for the environment by inviting bees into your space with plants they love. Recycle. Read our blog post on the benefits of mulching, which is something you can do with organic material from your own garden or home.

If you’re not composting yet, there is no better time to start than the present. Composting wouldn’t be so widespread if it was difficult to do. You will need a designated space or suitable container and a good compost accelerator to get things going.

Speaking of things compostable, instead of going plastic, why not try peat pots for germinating seedlings. These pots come in many different shapes and sizes and offer a green solution for almost every container job you have in the garden.


“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.- Elizabeth Murray

Gardening is inventive in its nature. Even if it might not seem like it at first glance, all gardens are characterised by planning and a measure of control in how it is put together and maintained. This implies human intervention and by implication, creativity.

Creativity is all about novel combinations that have value. Seeing as how the garden can incorporate both natural and artificial materials, the beauty of the creative process here is that you can use things that you already have and combine them with something else or new.

What things do you have in your home that you can repurpose for the garden in an inventive way? Anything shaped remotely like a container can house a plant! Think shoes, tins, pots, plastic bottles, tyres, balls cut in half or old stuffed trousers.

Gardens are not just made up of plants. Think of how you can combine architecture (arches, ponds, stairs, rooms and walls), furniture and decor (benches with plush cushions, birdbaths, statues) and lighting (fairy lights, colour-changing bulbs or a chandelier bedazzling a sturdy tree branch).

Alternatively, think of how you can bring in the four elements into your garden and again, how you can combine them in novel ways. How can you combine a water feature and a fire pit, for instance? Garden statues and fire? Flowers and fire? This list goes on.

Have a look at the stunning Salvia Blaze of Fire and imagine the “garden pictures” you can paint with these brilliantly coloured flowers, reminiscent of flames. The only limit with creative gardening is where your imagination ends.

Here’s to being more mindful, liberated, caring and expressive gardeners. Share your thoughts and experiences on using these mind setting techniques with us on our social media pages. What technique did you try, and how did it turn out? Let us know!

About the author

Chanél Boshoff has a master's degree in journalism and is an avid amateur gardener with a passion for the environment. She writes about sustainable and creative living.