Just think about this for a moment... why should I plant small plants instead of large ones?
Do large plants grow any better?
This is the age of instant gratification, want it, have it. It wasnt always this way but seems to be the modus operandi today. I have the cash, so big it will be!
Juxtapose this to the Italian phrase 'Tempo giusto', literally meaning 'at the correct speed'.
It's essentially a musical term that indicates that a meter has it's ideal tempo, speed or timing. The musician was to determine the ideal pace of a piece but the phrase has taken on more of a 'life' meaning today. It suggests that a life well lived is one that is unhurried, unrushed and respectful of the action. To savour a meal is to apply 'tempo guisto' where one appreciates the meal right from ordering, then seeing and finally tasting each mouthful.
And so it may also be with growing a garden; a plants journey may start with the soil preparation and the planting of seeds or seedlings. The enjoyment of the garden comes not from seeing the finished product (even though this may give you considerable satisfaction and pride) but rather from the pleasure of nuturing and nourishing the plants forward progress.
First there are the small signs of vegetative life; a delicate shoot then a few rudimentary leaves producing sugars from nothing more than carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. These sugars are distributed to the advancing phalanx of shoots and to the exploring roots so that the plant grows in it's pre-determined pattern. Cells multiply, specialised cells are called to attention to initiate branches, then flowers and finally seeds for the next generation.
Of course, all this may happen without any human intervention at all and we are kidding ourselves to think that we are largely responsible for the horticultural perfection before us.
However, we can take some credit for enabling our selected specimens to grow in places or climates that they would otherwise struggle in. It's a hostile world!
The joy is really in being part of this process, to provide for and be rewarded for our efforts.
You can only have part of this pleasure when you buy large plants. When you buy small plants you can justly say that it's maturity came from your attention; the soil preparation, the watering, protection, training and disease prevention. It was you who was responsible! And you who derived the most pleasure!
It's easy to write about the physical benefits of planting small plants, that of diminished water requirements, unconstrained root structures, optimised plant architecture (where the plant is perfectly adapted to wind as it grows) and of course, cost. But we propose that being part of a plant and gardens development is to be subscribing to 'tempo giusto' in your life, the act of harmonising with nature and appreciating it for the whole development, not just part.
Take your time, start with small plants and 'grow' your garden.