When you first enter a garden, whether that of a friend or stranger, do you notice something straight off that tells you something about its creator? I do, and feel like I have learned quickly something about the gardener who lives here. Somehow you feel as if you are getting a peek into someone’s soul.

If you are like me, you didn’t set out to give your garden a personality, but it’s inevitable. When we put our heart and mind into a plot of ground, we can’t help but leave a bit of ourselves there also.

I truly love the whole process of making a garden. Not everyone does. I recognize that I could never “buy” a garden.  Oh, I buy plenty of plants and tools and amendments for my garden, but I am compelled to have my hands in the dirt and to personally care for each purchased growing thing. Nothing excites me more than doing “walkies” and seeing what is blooming today. After all these years, I instinctively know just about when to spot the first snowdrops emerging. And next come other bulbs and the bright red nubs of the peony plants. Notice the swelling of the magnolia buds. All of a sudden the maples take on some color that’s been missing for lo these many winter months. On the other hand, if something goes missing, I notice that, too.

Some gardeners go for flashy and lots of color in plants and hardscape. Large plantings, such as trees and shrubs with big boulders, will tickle another’s fancy. I’ve gone through phases and have finally settled on a reliable, native if possible, filling and textured mix of plantings. If color happens to come with it, that is fine too but not the raison d’être. I can’t resist trying some tricky but interesting plants. I’ve been known to replant the same species over and over till it takes.

My one complete failure has been the blue poppy (meconopsis).

Challenging ourselves is part of this game, too. The late British gardener Beth Chatto was famous for saying, “Right plant, right place.” So true. I will definitely be perusing the plant catalogues that have arrived on schedule. Some reliables will be replaced and occasionally a new-to-me will be added. Then the excitement of the delivery guy leaving a package, pronouncing “This side up,” takes place. Don’t forget our local nurseries. They will sell larger, more established plants, which promise a quick start.

What’s your garden’s personality? Do you specialize? Push the envelope? Is “Knock-Your-Socks-Off” your game? Is it seasonal or do you have something going all months of the year? Perhaps a meditative space is more to your liking. Did you come by your theme deliberately or did it happen organically? You might not have even noticed that you had a personality out your back door.