I have been pondering the concept of what makes a "gardener" truly a gardener for a very long time now. Of course the polite answer would be that anyone who "gardens" runs the gamut from the potted plants on the deck or balcony to those who have beautiful large sweeping gardens that have been designed and maintained by professional landscapers while the "gardener" does the puttering.
However, it seems to me that to truly be a gardener requires a lot of toil, trouble and a certain degree of dirt under your nails. There is the "potted plants on the deck" gardener who may very well be unable to acquire a plot of land of their own and this is how they feed their passion for growing beautiful flowers or edible vegetables. Some of the very best gardens are those that are small and charming and filled with the gardeners personal flair. The gardens that have been professionally designed, planted and maintained with the "gardener" doing the bits of trimming and has the luxury of enjoying the final effects of all of that hard work are those that I take issue with. I ask, "how can they consider themselves gardeners?"
To me, to be a gardener literally means starting from the ground up. From the beginning stages of the planning of the beds all they way to completion with all of the mistakes, frustrations and successes that accompany the hard earned title of "gardener" whether it is on a small or a more grand scale, the gardener doing the majority of the work themselves. True, as we all age and get older we may be looking for help with the heavy work, but those of us with the gardeners soul will never turn over the actual tending of the garden. It is something we will do until we can no longer.