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Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - May 3, 2013

Garden Tips

Finding the story in your garden

by Jack McKinnon

I will never look at a garden gate the same again. Since I started gardening I have always just gone to work, gotten the job done and went on to the next thing. But a little while ago I got this Turkish door from my friend Emi and my garden changed into a different world. Suddenly it has a story and that has made all the difference.

This month's tips will be about finding the story in your garden. Here are the tips:

1. If we look for it, we will find it. If we don't, we won't. This theme has been repeated over and over from self-help books to the movie "Field of Dreams." When it comes to a garden story it may very well be true. Bring a chair into the garden and sit for a while.

2. Make up a fantasy story for your garden. Most home gardeners are women and women tend to be pretty good story people. Catch a child someday and have them come into your garden and tell them a story.

3. Plant a story. Maybe it will be around the Italian herbs you plant or possibly the mint and sweet peas. Flowering plants of all kinds are great themes for stories.

4. Try writing a poem just for your garden. It can be a sonnet like "but soft what light through yonder garden shines" or a haiku "ah ladybeetle, so carefully you step. there, an aphid."

5. Name your garden and build on the name. One friend called her garden "The Folly" when she got to 300 species.

6. Try a little spring romance story. I will leave this up to you.

7. How about a cottage garden that will feed your family for two or three generations? Then you can name plants for the people you love.

8. How about naming your cat after your favorite plant in the garden? I like Pansy, Daphne, Rose and Alstomeria.

9. Make your garden gate the theme entry with a hand-painted sign.

10. And what about a healing garden with herbs that help us stay well? This can be dedicated to one we are especially concerned about or who may have already passed. There is always a story to be found in a garden.

Good gardening.

Garden coach Jack McKinnon can be reached at 650-455-0687 (cell), by email at Visit his website at


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