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Who doesn't love September, and gardening

September brings hope that the rain and cold is coming to an end. For each little taste of spring we get, the mood lifts and we can again see the point in getting out in the garden. Some have the stamina and vision to garden through the depths of winter. But if you're like me, who gardens as much for the free suntan as I do for the plants, then it's not until the weather improves that gardening, other than sweeping leaves, begins again in earnest.

I'm a relative newcomer to the world of soil. My approach to learning is to experiment, using your learning time to figure out what you enjoy, what works and what doesn't. Here's my (novice) gardening advice:

Plant what you enjoy looking at and picking.

If it dies, don't plant it again.

If it lives, good on you!

Vegetables are easy to grow.

Vegetables don't have to be picked, I like how my spinach looks amongst the lavender and agaves.

If you like a plant, but not where it is, move it.

Some plants can survive without water, most can't.

You'll be surprised what can survive without direct sun.

You'll be surprised what may look dead but can actually be nursed back to life.

Find inspiration. Early in my gardening exploration I was (very) lucky to visit the garden of Linda Hallinan (editor at large of NZ Gardener magazine). At the time Linda had created a Potager garden, which (in my own dictionary) is a garden where everything you like co-habitates in a thoughtful but informal looking way. I was inspired by the breadth and variety of what she had planted.

If you know someone who has a beautiful garden from their own doing, invite them around for some real advice. Better still, pay a qualified gardener. The best piece of gardening I did, that not only stayed alive but also gave me enough understanding to go it alone, was done under the direction of a gardener with proven skill.

Know why it's good for you. There are so many health and wellbeing benefits to gardening I don't have room to list. Like all things, you get what you give and we're all different. I enjoy gardening for the creative experimentation, the pleasure of picking something I have grown and the physical feeling after a day at one with the soil. Bring on spring. 

by Kate Alexander

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