Daryl Beyers is a landscape designer with over 20 years’ worth of experience who teaches Gardening and Landscape Design for the Garden. However, he first came to the Garden as a student several years ago when his employers at a 10-acre estate in Connecticut sent him here to take classes in composting and orchid care. Daryl had earned a degree in Environmental Design, but it was here that he polished his horticulture skills, since, as he explains, “Not all landscape design programs stress plant knowledge, let alone gardening skills.”
The pitfalls facing new gardeners are familiar to Daryl, who built his skills both in the classroom and on the job, first as a laborer—“the guy pushing the wheel barrow”—then as a nursery worker—“the college kid holding a hose out in the container field.” He also had the same amateur gardener’s idealism: “Not knowing any better, my unstated goal first starting out was to keep every plant in my care alive… I share this experience with my Fundamentals of Gardening students because it demonstrates a common thread of how most inexperienced gardeners think. They believe, unhappily, that if a plant dies they have failed, when in fact the death of a plant is just a lesson. I quote a gardener friend who once said, “You don’t really know a plant until you have killed it three times.”
He described the message of his Fundamentals course as being “to convince new and experienced gardeners that it’s OK to fail; that they should not worry if things don’t work, but to take the lessons of each success or failure in stride.”
Daryl brings a no-fear attitude to his classes. “I want them to learn to let go and have fun, because after all isn’t that the point? I want them to see gardening as an experience, not a chore.” So Daryl equips them with the training and knowledge they need to take the fear away and add the “fun” back into the fundamentals.
“Watering often stumps inexperienced gardeners. But once they understand how plants use water and what affects a plant’s rate of transpiration (a.k.a. plant perspiration) they realize that there is more to watering a garden than installing irrigation or turning on a hose. Similarly with pruning: “Many gardeners are paralyzed by pruning. Once students learn that the right cut, in the right place, at the right time will actually stimulate growth and affect the size, shape and productivity of a plant, they attain a new level of control over their garden.”
Daryl is in the business of educating lifelong gardeners. According to Daryl, “most gardens do not become truly great until the gardener has been at it for at least 15 years and that the best gardens are years in the making.” New gardeners may see nothing but problems and failures at first, but there is no reason to be discouraged. After all, they have years to keep growing.
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