No. 04 // Where to Begin

If you're not a 'green thumb' or you just don't have much experience in the garden, jumping in can be daunting.  The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. It's a big green world out there - how does one even begin to recognize and differentiate plants and zones and natives vs. non-natives vs. invasive species and the list...goes...on.  

So even if you're interested, there are a lot of reasons to slowly back away and save this massive undertaking for "another day".  I did that for a long time.  I thought, well, I bet I'd really enjoy gardening but I haven't the shadiest how to keep any of these pretty things alive so, maybe tomorrow.  And then one day, my Mom gave me a milkweed plant.  I happened to know that these plants are hosts for Monarch caterpillars and that Monarchs are in trouble. I also knew that I wasn't going to let this thing die. So, I planted it.  Suddenly, the whole idea of getting started seemed straightforward - just figure out where to put the plant and plant it.

I soon discovered dozens of local groups on social media dedicated to native gardening, butterfly gardens, pollinators and the likes.  I joined these groups.  I downloaded an app to assist with plant identification and visited local native gardens.  I volunteered at a local native plant sale.  I read books and blogs about native gardening and subscribed to magazines dedicated to the subject. Having access to all of this information felt empowering.  

I've found the gardening and native plant community to be a warm bunch who like to share their knowledge and help others learn.  Sure, you will meet native "purists" along the way who take 'an all or nothing' approach to native gardening but even the purists had to start somewhere. 

So, where to begin?  I'd say, get your hands in the dirt and plant a milkweed.  You really just need one native plant to start and every native plant makes a difference. //

Vanessa Friedman