One of the glass beads on my necklace broke, creating an opportunity to rearrange the beads by colour and size. ‘Just like redesigning the garden’, I casually remarked to O and R, husband and wife team in the local jewellry shop.

Having asked whether I am a gardener, and being informed that I was a passionate amateur, O and R asked me if I would help them with their garden. They had pulled out everything and were starting again, but not sure how to go about it. I agreed and we started to make arrangements for me to visit.

‘Maybe you’d better see my garden first. You mightn’t like my style.’

So right away O accompanied me home to see the garden. My first intimation that our styles might be different happened as soon as we started talking garden talk.

‘I want gardens to attract wildlife like insects, birds and possums.’
‘R wouldn’t like that. She's afraid of birds and doesn’t like insects or possums.’
‘You needn’t have a birdbath. Then they would probably stay up high.’
‘But they might make a mess.‘

By this time we had reached my place. When he saw the front garden, he seemed taken aback. He gazed at it in silence for a moment or two. ‘I love it but it is too untidy for me.’

Then he viewed the back garden. By this time he had become visibly uneasy. ‘I love it but I couldn’t stand the leaves everywhere like that. I would have to be cleaning it up all the time.’

Now he became somewhat agitated and remembered he needed to get back to his shop to attend to something very urgent.

On the way back he thanked me. He said it had been quite an experience. He had never seen anything like it before.

No more was said about my helping them with their garden.


  1. Love the story, Catmint.
    I lived next door to someone I thought of as a "Straight-line Gardener".
    He would cut the buds off a lovely sweetly scented Viburnum each winter, because it looked untidy, and could never understand why it would not produce flowers.
    Some people are beyond help.

  2. I prefer the 'natural' look - leaves an all.

  3. Dear Catmint, Do not be at all discouraged or put off. Your day as Australia's leading garden designer will dawn. It may be just that little bit further off than you had in mind! Meanwhile, return to O and R's shop with some trumped up reason as to why the arrangement of your beads is not to your liking - perhaps too uniform. See how they like that!!

    Thank you so much for your comment on my recent posting and to which I have replied.

  4. How funny! I think O and R will have a problem with any garden, for gardens bloom and make their wonderful messes. Maybe plastic flowers :)

  5. Catmint, I love your mess, my mess (although smaller than yours) makes my soul sing. So,on behalf of the insects, birds and possums, thank you.
    ps We have 11 birdbaths in our little patch!

  6. That's fairly neat compared to some sections of the garden that I (sort of) look after!

  7. Love, love your messy garden! If you haven't allready, you should read Garden Rant's Gardeners Manifesto...which I admire and take to heart...they detest "perfect" gardens. It's not the mark of someone who experiments...experiments are messy...that's how we learn. Keep up the brilliant work!

  8. That story made me laugh. Obsessively tidy gardeners who find wildlife frightening or messy - why do they bother living in a house with a garden. Surely an apartment and a window box would be much more their thing :-)

  9. Ha! This is hilarious!! I think your wildlife haven is absolutely perfect. :)

  10. Well, to each his own, right, Catmint? You were smart to consider that your "styles" might not be compatible. And just think of all the work and headache you avoided.

    Gardeners and gardens are as individual and personal as fingerprints. Unfortunately it seems that many people WANT a certain style of garden but don't want to invest the initial or ongoing work required to make it happen. They want a showplace rather than a classroom.

    Scared of birds? LOL [Sorry but that makes me laugh.]

  11. That is a great story. It speaks of our differences at what we think our garden spaces should be and how different our thoughts are on the matter...I had never thought of that before:) Personally I agree with your idea that it should be a place for birds, wildlife...and natural.... I will use that bit of advice down the road on having people see my gardens before doing any work at their own place.


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