Thoughts on Wild Beauty …

Prince Pickerel on the Secret Garden Water Bowl

I’ve worked in many kinds of gardens: clipped, controlled and formal; sprawling, loose and informal. And it’s fair to say that I delight in landscape design of all kinds. Still, I find that my favorite gardens tend to walk the line between wild and tame. Too much order leaves little room for natural surprises. Tightly maintained gardens often lack mystery and magic. A bit of benign neglect can offer a world of wonder; room for nature to flourish. Let the reigns fall too loose, however, and the garden will disappear altogether. Balance is the key. I like to garden in harmony with nature. Thinking of my work as a dialogue, I always try to listen a bit more than I talk.

What grows in the area surrounding your garden? Are you settled into a woodland, a meadow, a seaside dune? What is nature saying to you? What can you add to the conversation?

I paint the gardens in my care with structure and then allow nature to take a blender brush to the boundaries, blurring the edges. Ferns tumble, vines ramble, and wildflower seeds self-sow with abandon. The look I love is loose and relaxed, but soothing as opposed to chaotic.

Rambling Roses and Juniper Sprawl along the Ledge in my Entry Garden. This rose has travelled with me through three moves. It came from an old foundation in back of my childhood home. The cultivar? I haven’t a clue. In this case, a rose is a rose is a rose. The look is wild and the smell is sweet.

I’m happy to live with a few minor imperfections in my garden. When it comes to natural beauty, perfection is imperfection. The bee on this rose seems to agree…

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3 Replies to “Thoughts on Wild Beauty …”

  1. peg leeco

    I am really a part time gardener.All bustin out and ready to rip early on and then a slacker when the beach beckons from across the salt water river that runs in front of my house.Therefore,It’s about this time of year when I formally announce “You are on your own!!” So without all that due diligence and because I have tons of granite bound spots,my garden takes on it’s own loose and lavish late summer appearance,which I prefer.
    Big ferns and hosta fill the shady side garden since they hold down the soil on that hilly side. Nearby a vernal stream dries up and leaves the birds asking for a drink and looking for a bath. Around on the water side i do deadhead the beach roses so they continue to bloom til october.The ornamental grasses go golden and frothy and the big front garden fills itself with gobs of daylilies and late summer blooms.hydrangea turn rusty and reddish purple then dry and are pale gold.The goatsbeard also constantly changes color decorating the edge of the yard with plumes and reaching past the redberries for the last of the sun. My garden makes me happy in it’s rambling full summer scramble.

  2. Indira Ganesan

    My secret container garden is alongside a dusty alley and telephone pole. The front yard past the front sidewalk has beautiful weeds–bright green tall ones whose color is like rice stalks in paddies, fine star-like yellow flowers that just got pulled sadly up by an ardent weeder, and a spiraling tall one with hosta-like leaves and broom-like flowers. Maybe it is broom. Feathery red weeds grow along-side stiff wheat-shaped ones, too.

  3. Michaela

    @ Indira – I like your painterly eye for the colors and textures of wild plants. I too appreciate the non-hybridized beauty of nature. And isn’t it wonderful to have places where the wild and the tame can overlap and co-exist. xo M

    @ Peg – Part time gardeners, aren’t we all! And I try always to remember —even though gardening is both my vocation and avocation— that we are only caretakers, and not the Gods of the garden, after all. Enjoy your seaside summer. xo M

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