"without a doubt, there is such a thing as too much order"

A Crocodile became increasingly fond of the wallpaper in his bedroom. He stared at it for hours and hours.

"Just look at all those neat and tidy rows of flowers and leaves," said the Crocodile. "They are like soldiers. There is not a single one that is out of place. "

"My dear," said the Crocodile's wife, 'you are spending too much time in bed. Come out into my garden where the air is fresh and the sun is bright and warm."

"Well, if you insist, for just a few minutes," said the Crocodile. He put on a pair of dark glasses to protect his eyes from the glare and went outside.

Mrs Crocodile was proud of her garden.

"Look at the hollyhocks and the marigolds," she said. "Smell the roses and the lilies of the valley."

Great heavens!" cried the Crocodile. "The flower and leaves in this garden are growing in a terrible tangle! They are all scattered! They are messy and entwined!"

The Crocodile rushed back to his bedroom a state if great distress. He was at once comforted by the sight of his wallpaper.

"Ah", said the Crocodile. "Here is a garden that is ever so much better. How happy and secure these flowers make me feel!"

After that the Crocodile seldom left his bed. He lay there smiling at the walls. He turned a very pale and sickly shade of green.

(Fables, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel, 1980).


  1. What a wonderful little fable! I know a person like this, she spends every spring planting daffodils in perfect rows, lifts them after they've flowered, and is constantly replacing and replanting things as soon as they get the slightest bit dishevelled. How she has any time to enjoy the garden is beyond me. I'll stick to putting the little bulbs in where i drop them, and sitting in the garden every spring to watch them coming up of their own accord. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dear Catmint, What a most amusing story this is, but how it rings true. Rigid ranks of anything are an anathema to me, but for many they represent the epitome of the perfect garden. As they say, it takes all sorts!

  3. So cute, who needs straight lines anyway!

  4. Great fable. Lots of good lessons there, a real fable for our time.

  5. Hi Catmint
    My former neighbour (when I was in Canberra) once cut all the buds off a magnificent Viburnum carlesii. Just before those beautiful, scented flowers were due to open. He hated things which got untidy.
    What's the point o f growing a beautiful scented plant and not letting it flower?

  6. I like that. Perfect, regimented gardens make me cringe but I suppose some people are driven to create order - even in the garden. Much better to have at least some disorder!

  7. A tale with a lot of meaning behind it. Creativity has to have some messiness to thrive!

  8. That is priceless, catmint! Thanks for posting it. We have some children's books by him, I think. the one about the frog and toad who are friends. I have to find this book.

  9. Mr Croc so sad. Maybe Mrs Croc needs to change garden plan... grow plants in rows - neat and tidy ;-)

  10. Hi Ria,
    I share your aesthetic, I love to be surprised by what happens in the garden.

    Hi Edith, exactly - there are many different garden styles, but most blotanical people I know aren't into straight lines.

    Hi Deborah, right on, sistah!

    Thanks Hermes, glad you liked it.

    Hi Denis, like Edith said, it takes all sorts ...

    Hi Easy, Disorder seems a necessary part of growth and change.

    Hi deb, I agree, there's no creativity without mess.

    Hi Stephanie, doesn't seem like they're a very compatible couple, does it?

    Cheers, catmint

  11. I love the fable! I know people who are somewhat like this only they are hard workers at keeping their land in perfect order. Having things in perfect order all the time can be a bit boring. I suppose I might be too much in the other direction for many. Very sweet and profound post Catmint. ;>)


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