Write your garden’s mission statement

– Posted in: Design

veronica_and_pinkMany of us write goals or resolutions for the new year, but have you ever considered writing your garden’s mission statement? Helen Yoest of Gardening with Confidence encourages us to do just that.

Many of us have named our garden, but I think a mission statement goes further. It forces you to think about what you are trying to accomplish with your garden, encompassing not only short and long term goals but even a broader garden philosophy, or raison d’etre, if you will.

I find the idea intriguing and am going to mull over and ponder my garden’s mission statement in the next few weeks. I think it might help give a focus to my catalog browsing and wish list making. I’ll share it once I’m satisfied that I’ve gotten it right.

I hope you’ll take up the challenge and share your garden’s mission statement as well.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.

~Mitchell Burgess in Northern Exposure

Comments on this entry are closed.

Paul Bee January 17, 2009, 4:48 pm

It’s a great question and I already know the clear answer for me… create and set in place as many native bee and pollinator habitats as I can – this year I want to have as much fruit from the trees as possible to build up the stock of jam. Last year wasn’t a great year for our plum trees.

Monica January 13, 2009, 2:04 pm

Hi Kathy–This sounds like a fun way for people to think about what their garden means to them. I personally spent too many years of my life as a corporate writer so the idea of writing a mission statement is not something positive for me personally, not even applied to something I love. Added to that, for me and my little space outdoors, garden is a verb, not a noun, and verbs don’t need missions statements. 🙂

Kathy Purdy January 13, 2009, 3:54 pm

I certainly understand, Monica. This approach isn’t for everyone. Glad to hear from you!

Kathy Purdy January 13, 2009, 1:45 pm

Thank you, Kat! I’m glad you’ve found my blog so helpful. The award is supposed to signify that “This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships.” And I do want to build relationships through blogging, twitter, and plurk.

KatWolfdancer January 13, 2009, 12:54 pm

And Kathy, thanks for all the inspiration. I humbly offer you this Friendship Award!



KatWolfdancer January 7, 2009, 2:23 pm

OK, after a night of pondering, here is what I came up with. THANKS Kathy, for pointing out Helen’s Blog for me!



Danny Staple January 6, 2009, 5:58 pm

Hi there, I have more of a collection of plant pots and growbags in windows than a garden per se. However, I do have a clear mission, which is to grow food. Food I can eat.

I have eaten at least 20 of my own tomatoes, and shared some with friends and colleagues. I am not getting a huge yield, but learning a lot. I have some herbs growing as well.

For a little bit of variation, there is a rubber plant, some cacti and occasionally carnivorous plants, but it is overwhelmingly tomatoes.

Kathy Purdy January 6, 2009, 6:27 pm

Danny, there are other garden bloggers out there growing plants on balconies and other urban spaces, so you’re in good company. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your garden’s mission.

KatWolfdancer January 6, 2009, 2:58 pm

OOO! I share muse and then share as soon as I am done musing about this wonderful idea!


Tessa January 6, 2009, 12:55 pm

I’m in full agreement, Kathy. That is one of the best things about gardening- there are no mistakes, only creative ways to get something the way you want it 😉 and you can always change it!

I think it’s going to take me a while to figure out my garden statement-

Tessa January 6, 2009, 2:17 am

What a fantastic idea! My garden is full of a lot of experiments, which is fun for me because I love to find interesting ways to do things. I love giving bouquets to friends too. I like to have my family’s and friend’s favorite flowers growing in my garden- and always start a few favorites of loved ones that have passed away- an ‘in memory of’ kinda thing. And most importantly- being in the garden, no matter what I’m doing, makes me feel closer to God.- I just don’t know how to put that all together into one mission statement…off to read Helen’s post for some inspiration and HELP!

Mind if I link to you about this- it’s something I’d like to post about too!

Kathy Purdy January 6, 2009, 9:25 am

Tessa, welcome! I love to have flowers for bouquets, too. It’s hard to come up with a concise statement of what you want the garden to be. I think we both need to remember that we can change it if we want to.

Lynn January 5, 2009, 10:55 am

Thanks for sharing this idea, Kathy. Why shouldn’t we make the most of our land, imagination, and time with some focus? We’ve been saying, “we have to do better with the (veggie) garden this year,” but I think saying out loud what that really means will help us know how to go about it and enjoy it even more! Good to hear from the landscape pros that this is a given in their work.

Herman and Yvonne January 5, 2009, 4:43 am

Soekershof is a sacred enterprise, based on the appreciation of nature, humor, play, creation, expression and respect for the land and the growth and development of the people and plants that participate.

Kathy Purdy January 5, 2009, 9:54 am

Thank you, Herman and Yvonne, for sharing your garden’s mission statement. Yours is short, as Carol advised, but obviously took a lot of thought. I hope you also share it with Helen over at Gardening with Confidence. Please stop by and comment again.

Layanee January 4, 2009, 5:48 pm

I am going to give this careful consideration. Nice post, Kathy!

LostRoses January 4, 2009, 12:02 am

Kathy, this is a great idea, and one I wish I’d focused on years ago. My philosophy then and now would be “make something beautiful”. But a mission statement might have saved a lot of missteps!

Jenn January 3, 2009, 9:06 pm

Excellent idea!

Tara Dillard January 3, 2009, 11:29 am

I’ve asked landscape design clients for a mission statement for almost 2 decades. What they want from and for their landscape. Perhaps they might need 2 mission statements, frontyard & backyard. Not one client has skipped creating their mission statement. Some have been unable to do it easily and I tell them to describe their completed landscape.

In addition, I ask for a list of plants they like & don’t like. Most importantly I ask them to tear out pictures of gardens they like and gardens they dislike. There will be threads of desire/theme amongst their pictures.

With the mission statement, plant list and pictures I can get a lot more done in the time I have with each client and the work is finely honed.

When I complete each design I look at the mission statement again and cross off each element that has been executed.

I can’t imagine designing a landscape without a mission statement.

Kathy Purdy January 3, 2009, 1:50 pm

Thanks for joining in the conversation, Tara. I think a lot of gardeners, myself included, have a vague idea of what they want to accomplish in their gardens. They make do with that for years. But when you’re charging for your time (and can’t read minds) it is the only way to know what your clients want.

Mary Schier January 2, 2009, 12:11 pm

This is a wonderful idea! Sometimes my garden feels more like a collection of experiments rather than a coherent whole. I’m going to check Helen’s post, then try to figure out what my garden’s mission really is.

Kim January 2, 2009, 10:25 am

What a great post – thought-provoking with potential for introspection and growth. Thanks! I look forward to seeing where this goes with all of us.

Darlene January 2, 2009, 1:01 am

What a lovely idea! I think the notion of my garden having a mission statement is really connected to the purpose or the ‘why’ of our gardens. It is a bit deeper than just making the backyard look prettier. Herbs and Hydrangeas is all I have so far, but I like this notion very much and will be sure to think about it this January.

Kathy Purdy January 2, 2009, 11:33 am

Thanks for stopping by, Darlene. And you’re right: if you’re passionate about gardening, if it’s not just “outdoor housekeeping” to you, there is more to it than making things look pretty. And if you articulate that, it helps you with design and plant choice decisions

Katie January 1, 2009, 4:23 pm

What a great idea Kathy. I like goals and things I can work towards. This is a constructive challenge that will lead all of us to be better gardeners.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

tina January 1, 2009, 2:01 pm

I was going to say Helen just posted this very thing and I was going to start working on my garden mission statement, but I see you and her are hooked up with it already. Actually I have a good idea already of my mission statement. Gotta make sure I word it right from business school days.

I had to tell you I was reading an old issue of Horticulture and saw an short column by Kathy Purdy. I can only assume it is you. I can’t tell you how tickled I was to read it and know that I have visited your blog personally. Anyhow, Happy New Year!

Kathy Purdy January 1, 2009, 2:28 pm

Tina, I have written several times for Horticulture. I keep a list of all my published work, in case you have other back issues. 😉

Mr. McGregor's Daughter January 1, 2009, 1:50 pm

I’ve always had a garden philosophy, I guess it’s time for a mission statement, although that sounds awfully corporate for free-wheeling me. I supposed it will include something about allowing nature to take the lead.

Helen @ Gardening With Confidence January 1, 2009, 1:34 pm

Thanks Kathy!
I plan to pull together the collection of garden mission statements post. Please feel free to send me your garden mission statement when written. Also I hope your readers do the same. Include your zone and URL.


Bloomin' Blogger January 1, 2009, 12:01 pm

Now that is a great idea! I find that I usually spend so much of my time weeding, clipping and transplanting that I don’t take time to just enjoy the moment. I think I will aim to attract as many winged creatures as possible and to take the time to sit in my garden and commune with them.

Happy 2009 from Judy

Susy January 1, 2009, 11:02 am

What an interesting idea. I’ll have to think on this some more.

Happy New Year!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens January 1, 2009, 9:56 am

I went to a workshop once and developed a personal mission statement, which I think also applies to my garden. My mission statement… To sow, grow, and sustain good things in life’s garden Now off to read Helen’s post about mission statements for gardens!

Happy New Year!

debra January 1, 2009, 12:56 am

Happy New Year, dear Kathy~
I like the idea of a mission statement, but first, I want to actually have a garden (not a yard)….so my resolution is to spend 1 hr / day in the garden in 09. Goodness knows, I fritter away 1 hr a day at the keyboard…. my internet companions will have to wait next year bcuz the garden is more important. Starting tomorrow!
xoxo Debra

ang January 1, 2009, 12:12 am

Kathy, an excellent post. My previous years before farming I was a landscape designer. I always encouraged my clients to view what they wanted 10 years down the road rather than what I could install at this moment .

I hope many gardens will include more edibles for 2009 .

With God speed for 2009,
St. Fairsted Farm

kate December 31, 2008, 10:47 pm

Now this is an interesting idea – I need to do some thinking about what my mission statement is … perhaps a good thing to be thinking about on this New Year’s Eve.

I hope you have a wonderful and happy New Year!!

Kathy Purdy December 31, 2008, 10:07 pm

I hope you went to Helen’s original post, MA. She had a lot of good ideas and was the inspiration for this little post of mine.

MA December 31, 2008, 9:58 pm

That’s a great idea and I know just what my mission statement is going to be: to be the poster child/garden for a most beautifully designed low water use garden. I’ve talked about it for years. This is the year of completion.

Thanks for the great post.