you just can't please everyone

You can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all the time
I think it was an American president who said that first, and later Bob Dylan used it.  Anyway, now I’m using it, in relation to the garden (of course) and specifically in relation to how people react to my garden.
People seem to react to my garden in 3 distinctly different ways:
1.     There are those who love it.  They express interest, curiosity, appreciation and pleasure. They go outside to experience it close up no matter what the weather is like.  They notice things. They notice buds, spiders, flowers, birds, leaves …
2.     Then there are those who just don’t notice it.  They might be in the family room that has big windows looking onto the garden. They might even be outside on the deck.  How can they not notice the garden? Maybe they are preoccupied with other things.  Maybe they are more attuned to their inner worlds.  Some of the people in the non-noticing category are passionate gardeners themselves, growing and harvesting their own produce.  We may be fellow gardeners, we may be friends, but we’re not in synch garden-wise. It's as if a garden that isn't devoted to growing food doesn't really count.
3.     Some people react in a way that makes me laugh. They seem to have an idea of what a garden should look like. When my back garden doesn’t fit with this idea, this makes them uneasy, uncomfortable.  I think it feels risky to them. Maybe they see it as wild nature out of control or simply unhygienic.  Sometimes they change their minds.  
In an early post I wrote about a 3 year old girl who visited with her mother.  She looked out at the garden and said: 'Mummy, why is the garden dirty?' The next time Gabriella visited was two years  later. This time she was entranced, strolling along the paths and dreamily picking flowers for her mother.  
Recently G. dropped in. He stood at the window and stared out at the garden. 'It needs a focal point'.  'It's not that sort of a garden', I explained. 'It's not so much for looking at, it's for being in.' So we wandered into the garden, and he got it. Like Gabriella he got to see it differently and now loves it. 
My mother has also changed. Initially the untidiness and presence of insects made her uneasy.  I explained the idea of creating natural, relaxed and informal garden pictures, and now she loves it.
Recently we needed an electrician. In between doing whatever it is that electricians do, he silently stared out the window onto the back garden. Then he looked out of the side window and noticed the group of Japanese maples next door.  His relief at seeing something familiar was almost palpable. He turned his back on my garden. 'Look at those beautiful Japanese maples! Aren't you lucky to have them outside your window?'


  1. Dearest Catmint,

    Indeed, gardeners come in a lot of different varieties. Some tell us that they 'only' like low maintenance gardening. Well, there is NONE... What do they expect? But we too love the natural habitat and keep our wood garden that way for the biggest part. With some bought trees and shrubs planted in it. But it is hard work and a lot of sweat and stings from insects. Guess that makes us stronger as our bodies at least manage to build some immunity.
    But it needs loving parents to raise a child for recognizing and noticing nature or it will never catch their eye later on in life. They're in this world but live past the beauty of it. The smell, the sounds and all that is in it.

    Lots of love and you can feel blessed for posessing this gift!


  2. Oh yes I have these 3 kind of people visiting our garden. I think garden is not something that you just look at. But you must go in the garden and stroll to experience and know how to appreciate a garden. It takes many visit and discussion with my mother about why I think growing my own vegetable is important. She is a half-vegetarian eats a lot of vegetables. But I have to tell her eating vegetable is very good but eating many vegetables sprayed with chemicals is hazardous to health in long term as well. So now my parents are starting to grow their own vegetables too and I try to help by sending them seeds. I wish we have a space for pond so we can create a habitat.

  3. That is funny! Aren't you lucky?? Well duh, you planted them there I am sure and it was on purpose. You know I love all gardens even if they are not my style I appreciate them. I can't get those folks who don't notice your garden. Duh! It sounds like my kind of garden-natural.

  4. Catmint, it's " you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time..." It's hard when people who visit your work don't 'get' can only continue doing what you do. Gardens are not just about their 'look', they are very much about how they act, about what happens within them, without the judgement/intervention of humans. Criticism can be very unhelpful...more important is attunement.

  5. I think for many people, the word "garden" implies a sense of structure or symmetry. A more natural habitat by definition will be much less structured or symmetrical. I myself try to avoid the word "garden" and its derivatives when referring to my wildscape. I've only been at it a short time, so there is some sense of structure, but as my wildscape develops into a more natural habitat over time, the structure should become less evident. I have to remind myself now and then that there will be those who won't get it, but since my wildscape is more about my trying to create a natural habitat for wildlife, it was never really about anyone else anyway.

  6. It is sad that just because someting doesnt fit people perceived ideas of what something should be they cant relate to it or try to understand it. After all how do ideas develop if you cant look at something different and see the beauty in it.
    We have started to leave some of our lawn uncut and I know it is only a matter of time before my parents query why we have left it so messy!!
    Its your garden - do what you want with it

  7. I have noticed some of these myself. I have seen people come up through the yard a past flowers and beds and it seems they do not even notice them. I think how can they not take notice of color and flowers and what or where do they find their beauty and pleasure in. I guess my error is in thinking everyone loves flowers like I do. LOL!

  8. Sometimes I'm afraid the third bunch will go over to astroturf, a cell phone mast made to look like a 'tree' ... and a few plastic tulips for colour?

  9. Oh so true! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so many have their own particular take on what makes a garden beautiful.

    My hubbie calls my garden 'a creepy old woman's garden' ... I think he's referring to the fact that it seems overgrown with ferns and a little too disorganised for his tastes. He likes things all neat and trimmed ... not my taste at all!

    Your garden, on the other hand, is definitely to my taste. Gardens are such personal things and the only person who should be pleased is yourself.

  10. Yes we can't please everybody haha... Once my auto-gate technician that was resealing the hole that concealed the motor told me that the leak was caused by daily watering of my plants and I should not have grown so many plants ???

  11. I think I would like your garden very much. It looks wild and wonderful and full of mystery and life. I am glad I discovered your blog. I look forward to exploring more of your posts.

  12. The third group are the group I never try to please. My neighbors rarely understand my garden, but those who do love it..please yourself first!!

  13. Dear cyberfriends, thank you so much for your validating and caring words. I'm so pleased you can relate to these three types of garden visitors.

    dear Mariette, thanks for the warm comments and the follow.

    Dear Mk, I think you can create a habitat even without a pond except I suppose you can't have frogs without one. I have always wanted one too but never got around to getting one.

    Dear Tina, I love all gardens too because even if it's not my thing it's all interesting.

    Dear Faisal, wise words, I like the idea of attunement. Is attunement in the eye of the attunee then???? Very funny, yes I forgot that that saying was about fooling the people, I adapted it to my need.

    Dear RT, yes my garden is for wildlife too, but I suppose it's complicated because it is for me too.

    dear PG, I laughed imagining your parents criticizing your messy lawn but it is interesting that my mother and Malay-Kadazan's mother have both been influenced by us so maybe your parents will become more broad (read messy) minded too.

    Hi Lona, I guess accepting people are different not necessarily wrong is what tolerance is!

    Hi Diana, I've seen quite a bit of astro turf lately. Re the phone looking like a tree and plastic tulips: sssh, you'll give them ideas!

    Hi Bernie, I admire your confidence, I usually feel like that but sometimes I weaken.

    Hi Steph, what a funny story - lol.

    Thanks Deb,new cyberfriend, I am so pleased you like the blog.

    Dear Donna, wise words - even if we try we can't please everyone so we might as well just please ourselves.

    Cheers, catmint

  14. Yeah, I mainly just try and make myself happy while not getting to the point of pissing others off. Life is too short. My garden absolutely does not look like the formal partiere types that are the rule around here. And. I. Dont. Care!

  15. Hi catmint, I just loved your post today probably as much as I would love your garden. Your electrician did make me laugh. I have to admit he would probably be very taken with our garden as it does meet with the expectations of the traditionalist. Strangely enough I take great pleasure in viewing gardens which are wild and wonderful, but its too late in the day for me to change.

  16. Your garden is for you, Catmint,if others don't appreciate it, then that is their sad loss. We all have the type of garden that we want, but that should not stop us from appreciating different types of garden. Different habitats make different gardens, they are all beautiful in their own way.

  17. Hi Catmint! I think our garden is all 3 depending on our time, mood...but usually it's just for racing a bike around in, for chooks to graze in or for eating from. As long as it's well loved by its owners and is frequented by the good insects and wildlife, that's all that matters I think!

  18. BTW - the ipad uses the simpler mobile template?

  19. Dear Jess, yesyesyes, Even if others get a bit pissed off - Life. Is. Too. Short.

    Hi Alastair, I'm so pleased you laughed, I thought it was very funny. Hmmm, interesting about being too late to change gardens. I have been aspiring to (mock) wild and wonderful, if I were starting again I might do veggies.

    Dear Pauline, thanks for the comment, we all have different notions of beauty, and safety (those people who see gardens as dirty and dangerous)

    Hi Mrs B, your garden looks and sounds so wonderful - lucky children and chooks

    Dear Diana, I am afraid I am being technologically challenged again.

    Cheers, catmint

  20. I love this post. I can never understand the gardeners among my family and friends who do not look at my garden. Strange.

  21. Dear Hazel, thanks for the comment - it's good to know I'm not alone in this. cheers, catmint


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