Patti Moreno discovered her passion for gardening in 1998, when she was looking for a way to lose weight: “I needed to do something physical, so I started beautifying our yard.” Failed hydrangea bushes soon gave way to bountiful raised beds. Today, not only are Moreno’s gardens flourishing, but so is her Web site, GardenGirlTV.com, which offers gardening advice and how-to videos. We caught up with Patti at her home in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
“Gardening is an experiment. Every year I learn something. I’m going to die and not know everything about gardening, so I don’t worry about doing it right, and also we’re so limited here: by the time frame, by the space. I just have three-quarters of an acre for a garden; if it were any larger, I wouldn’t be able to manage it all. That’s one of the reasons I love perennial natives: They’re not going to need all that time and attention, they’re going to attract the natural insects that are supposed to be in a garden, and it’s food. The wildlife love it, and I’m able to eat it as well, or share with my neighbors.”
“When I started gardening, I literally killed the first 20 things I tried. I was mainly into flowers at first, and just went with what was pretty. I tried hydrangeas. Hydr [refers to] ‘water,’ which means you need to water it. I learned that the first year.”
“My first success was with apple trees. I bought a couple and put them in our backyard and grew apples. I was like, Yes! I picked the apple and tasted it, and it was the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted. Not just because I’d grown it, but because it was fresh. I grew up in New York City. We don’t eat fresh food. We don’t know what that tastes like. Everything gets shipped in. So from there I was like, Okay, I can grow stuff and eat it. What else can I grow and eat? And just started going to town.”
“If anyone has any land, if they’re going to do anything outside, please plant a tree first, whatever you do. Just start it. Our tree canopies are gone in our cities, and that’s one reason we have such high temperatures in the summer. And why our cities have such bad air pollution. Shade and oxygen–they’re important not only for our wildlife habitat but for our own benefit, too. I try to plant as many trees as I can every single year. I’m just running out of space.”
“You can make gardening fit your lifestyle. There aren’t a lot of people who want to be farmers, but they do want to grow their own food. Some people see my gardens or watch my videos and think, I can’t do this; I don’t have the money or the know-how. But you can do it–there’s always a scaled-down version. I’m just showing people what I do and sharing what anyone can do.”
“This whole week, I’ve been sprucing things up and been in my happy place. I get into bed and I’m just so happy with what I’ve done that day. I moved compost all day–that was great! Which I guess the New York girl in me is surprised about. Don’t get me wrong: I still like my manicures and things like that.”