Photo by Melody

What Style of Gardener Are You?

By Lori Geistlinger (McGloryAugust 9, 2009

Much has been written about style including fashion style, communication style, writing style, and even romance style. One may take a quiz in any number of popular periodicals to determine if a person’s fashion style is dramatic, classic, romantic, or just plain “ick.” Of course there are styles of gardens including formal or cottage, but what of gardeners themselves? What style of gardener are you? Not to be outdone by scholarly scientific researchers, we suggest the following quiz will be helpful. Following the quiz is a brief description of each style of gardener.

Gardening picture

(Editor's Note:  This article was originally published on August 9, 2007)


1. You are given a fan of an expensive daylily by an acquaintance. In no time, the plant is dead. The acquaintance asks you later how the daylily performed. You:

_____A. Tell him that it immediately croaked, and

change the subject to a more relevant topic.

_____B. Invite him over to see how well it’s doing, then

get on the computer and spend $80 to have a

replacement overnighted to you.

_____C. Explain to him in botanical and scientific terms

how its failure to survive relates to the

microclimate you planted it in.

_____D. Don’t answer directly. You are secretly relieved

because you didn’t have the perfect spot for it



2. You decide one Saturday morning that the southeast corner of your yard needs a shrub. You:

_____A. Purchase a pretty shrub, plant it, water it, and go inside for breakfast.

_____B. Ask the neighbors to the south what their future yard plans are to see

if what you’re planning will inhibit them. The neighbors to the east are

on vacation, so you put off the project until you can ask them.

_____C. Call the utility companies to ask for someone to mark the buried cables.

_____D. Conduct online research of evergreen shrubs that don’t get over 6 feet

tall and produce white flowers in late spring.


3. A nurseryman suggests a Japanese maple might be perfect for your needs. You:

_____A. Buy it, no questions asked.

_____B. Call your friends to see if they’ve ever heard of a Japanese maple.

_____C. Spend two years determining how the shade it produces will affect

surrounding plantings while the maple withers in the garage.

_____D. Write down the genus, species, and cultivar name in order to research

height, spacing, and light requirements. Take home the nursery tag to

compare color to existing plants.


4. Which best describes your vegetable garden?

_____A. I have an acre vegetable patch with some of everything.

_____B. I plant tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes in the far corner of the yard.

Doesn’t everyone?

_____C. I have the straw bales to start a straw bale garden.

_____D. I didn’t get one in this year, but I bought the most reputable seeds.



5. Which photo inspires you?

_____A. Tools to get dirty






_____B. Group of gardening friends





_____C. Blank slate








_____D. Design and dream materials






If you answered mostly A’s, we regret to inform you that you are a Vigorous Gardener. Vigorous Gardeners are recognizable by their tendency to roll their eyes if someone starts talking about planning a new bed. They make quick decisions and carry them out immediately. The neighborhood hodge-podge gardens are theirs. Most of their plants are inexpensive annuals, because they have to buy so many. Vigorous gardeners only shop at the local nursery, because they can’t wait for something to come in the mail. A Vigorous Gardener is the first to get her vegetable garden started, but she frequently loses tomatoes to a spring freeze. Vigorous Gardeners prune their shrubs to death. Happily, a Vigorous Gardener always has the energy to replant, an excellent trait because she usually has to.


If you answered mostly B’s, it’s too bad, but your gardening style is Amicable. Amicable style gardeners never have an original idea. They are so in tune to the emotions and feelings of others, they would never risk planting something someone else might find objectionable. A hibiscus is too racy. Most of her plants are orange ditchlilies, because she wouldn’t dare offend a friend by not planting a gift. A compost pile? Not on your life! One Montana Amicable Gardener only planted what her mother-in-law planted. Too bad the mother-in-law lived in Florida. On the bright side, the Amicable Gardener is quick to share her extra divisions, because one can never have too many orange ditchlilies.


If you answered mostly C’s, unfortunately you are an Idealist Gardener. Idealists never get anything done. They find solutions to problems that don’t exist yet, but in the meantime the most basic tasks remain unfinished. Often referred to as a “big picture” person, the gardener with the Idealist style has more trees, all young saplings, than any other plant. He plans his shade garden confident he will have shade in 20 years. The Idealist Gardener has been known to guard his own weeds because one day they may be an alternative to fossil fuels. On a more favorable note, the Idealist Gardener is creative, and will look for artful possibilities in every insect.


If you answered mostly D’s, you are regrettably an Academic Gardener. Academic Gardeners never stoop to use common names. Each garden bed is planned right down to the grid paper, cut-outs, and photos. One gift plant will throw off the entire scheme, so the Academic has been known to let a gift plant die while planning an entirely new bed around it. Most of the plants in her garden are $200 roses that look and behave exactly like the $12.99 roses from the Big Box store, but there is a difference in the spelling of the cultivar name. She can tell you the names of the different species of iris, but doesn’t remember what an iris looks like. On the bright side, the Academic Gardener has excellent computer skills whereby she may show off her perfectly manicured nails.


A tie? Sorry, you have no style. Thanks for taking the quiz anyway!

  About Lori Geistlinger  
Lori GeistlingerLori and her husband, Handsome Man, garden in the heart of Tornado Alley in the Midwest. She likes perennials, because if they don't come back, chances are she forgot she planted them and doesn't realize she killed them. Don't take her too seriously.

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