a long tortuous garden journey


I've been making the garden for thirty-five years. Actually that's not quite true. I've been making and remaking the garden for thirty-five years.


The garden evolved and it's still evolving. I used to be proud that the garden evolved. Other people might pay garden designers to plan and implement a design. Not me. I did it all from scratch myself, moving from total to partial ignorance, learning as I went.

Nesting box for microbats
Having to work out what goes where is tiring, even exhausting at times. Without an integrated plan for the whole garden, I continually need to be working out how to fit pieces of the puzzle together. It is a real challenge to create a picture that is harmonious and natural looking.



Society Garlic flowers
Trouble is ... I kept changing my vision, and I kept changing the garden, chasing a dream.

Garlic chive flowers
The first vision was of an English cottage garden. This vision was modified as I learned to appreciate the subtle beauty of the Australian bush. Later still, I started to see the garden as habitat.

Tea tree flowers
The latest vision is of an indigenous garden, teeming with wildlife. This vision will probably, hopefully ... be realized within my lifetime, but it definitely needs more time for the immature shrubs and trees to fill empty spaces and gain height.

In the meantime, depending on my changing mood, I either see the garden as wondrous, potentially wondrous or a chaotic uninspired mess.


immature, small Banksia marginata trees
If only I would have made a plan for the whole garden, and stuck with it ... but I guess that was never going to be my garden journey. I wanted unpredictability, change and the risk that goes with it, and that was what I got. We are what we are, and our gardens reflect our nature.


Comments

  1. Hi Sue,
    I have to agree with you. Gardening is an ever changing process. It's an adventure! Let's see ... this plant would look nice here. NO .. maybe better there. I love the look of informal gardens. My gardens kind of look like my closets. Messy, but I know where things are. :-)

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    1. Hi Jane, I'm with you about informal gardens, but even with an informal garden you seem to need some structure, but it's subtle and not so obvious as in a formal garden, and I am finding harder to achieve.

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  2. Each year our gardens change and mature. We are forever changing. I like your last statement "We are what we are, and our gardens reflect our nature. We are still covered in snow. I am anxious to see my garden and trees. I have been away from home these last 3 winter months. I am going home around the middle of April. The snow should be all gone by then. bye for now. Thelma

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    1. Hi Thel, I am endlessly fascinated by your situation that is so strange to me, i.e. a garden inaccessible for several months because it is covered deep in snow. Cheers, catmint.

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  3. made a plan and stuck to it?
    We'd be bored witless.

    I remember once reading a blog post that made me sad. The 'gardener' sat in her office and wrote about the landscaping crew doing blah blah blah. Sad, just sad. No fun at all. And lifeless - change the yellow wotsits to purple thingummies. Oy. My plans for this garden swirl around like clouds on a windy day!

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    1. Dear Diana, I think maybe I have gotten a bit burned out, but I still wouldn't want a landscaping crew in here. The last sentence in your comment plans swirling around like clouds - is beautifully worded and poetic.

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  4. "Bored witless." That's a perfect way to describe it, Diana. I, too, am only thrilled with the garden when it is changing and shifting and I'm able to experiment and restructure. I also share your vision of creating a haven for wildlife, as their habitats are ever-shrinking in this world.

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    1. Hi Beth, I am feeling the need to provide habitat for wildlife more and more urgently, too. And it's true, I have become bored with the garden in the past and ripped a lot out to make changes.

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  5. How wonderful to have a garden that has evolved over the past 35 years, and that has clearly been loved throughout. I change my mind about what I want in my garden on an almost weekly basis, so I think three basic concepts in all those years is very disciplined! Despite creating plans for others day in, day out, I never create a plan for my own gardens. I love to be spontaneous and fluid, finding a space for something, whether it really fits or not! For me it would spoil the journey if I knew the end point up front.

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    1. thank you so much for this, Janna - it is definitely encouraging to read your words. It's just that when I feel demoralized I feel that I should have achieved more in 35 years. But of course it's always self destructive to compare oneself with others.

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  6. A garden is never finished, it is always changing from one year to the next. When I first started I wanted one of everything, now I want drifts of plants that I know are happy here, they are allowed to seed about so the garden changes each year, getting better each time. I have always gardened for wildlife and our count of birds, animals, insects and reptiles increase year on year. I know I would hate to leave here now!

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    1. I think your garden is amazing, Pauline, the thing about drifts is getting the proportions right, I am finding. Too much of the one species doesn't work either, it looks boring and lazy and uninspiring.

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  7. Sue, I feel you've made your garden in the most beautiful way possible...no-one can possibly plan a garden, not really, not if they're alive to its movements - yes, you can plan, but the garden is always going to have a say you hadn't expected. That's probably wrong - millions of people plan and execute gardens. And they get results. But I like it in cases like yours, when the garden is suggesting, through time, how it might become more viable, how it might become more than intended.

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    1. Dear Faisal, thank you so much for your wise, helpful words.

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  8. Sue, as long as you love your garden it will always be right for you. My garden is six years old and I began with a grand plan. I think making the plan was such a pleasure that I've never minded that the garden actually seems to have followed its own plan, not necessarily mine. I just love planting, moving, seeing things I've forgotten suddenly thriving. Always a gardener from childhood, I lived in an apartment for 15 years, so to have a garden again is my great joy.

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    1. thanks for this, Carol, It must be wonderful having a garden again. I'm feeling calmer now because today was a lovely mild sunny day and I managed to get in a few hours in the garden.

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  9. We seem to be on a similar path without a full realized plan and the thoughts of a cottage garden....now a partially realized wildlife garden....perhaps in my lifetime too.

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    1. Hi Donna, it's fascinating how all over the world we seem to be on similar paths. The narrative changes first, then the world changes.

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  10. Your garden journey sounds so similar to my own. I even began with dreams of an English cottage garden, which quickly wilted and bleached under our hot summer sun. Now I am much more conscious of the needs of wildlife and am trying to incorporate more natives. I continue to make adjustments and wait for recent plantings to mature. It is a never-ending process, which I thoroughly enjoy!

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    1. Hi Deb, we are on similar journeys. Is it because we are cyber friends and have influenced each other, or are we cyber friends because of our ideas and experiences? I guess both can be correct answers.

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  11. I've only been at this gardening lark for 4 years and I can't see an end in sight. My visions change every other month. I have no laid out plans either and I am enjoying learning about the plants as I go along.
    The space you have created sounds just perfect for wildlife and a credit to your devotion.

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    1. thanks, Angie, it's good to know other people do it similarly.

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  12. One of the aspects of gardening that is the most appealing is how dynamic it is. It we'd created static plant museums, then what's the point? I gauge the success of my garden not by how similar it is to the pages of a garden magazine but by how much wildlife it supports. Your garden is a true refuge and sanctuary, which is the only descriptors that matter.

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    1. thanks for this, Tammy, I knew this but somehow got forgot and got sucked into some other weird set of ideas.

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  13. That is part of the wonder of gardening - a garden is always changing and growing! There's always something new to learn, something new to do. And gardening for wildlife is so awesome because it invites a whole different element into the garden, a whole higher level of life. Have fun!

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    1. Gardening for wildlife is a new way of looking at, and gives the opportunity to learn about fauna as well as flora. It is awesome - I appreciate your comment.

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  14. As a designer, I even change my garden often. Mostly to test plants for other gardens, but also because I get bored easily. Gardens evolve as they grow and conditions change. Sometimes conditions change as neighboring properties build or plant, changing how light, air and even water effect our gardens. Part of gardening is the unexpected.

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    1. Hi Donna, when I read this, I realized that I change things so often because I get bored too. I love seeing it in its potential state with the lack of certainty what it will look like as its grows and changes. So I'm also hooked on uncertainty!

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  15. A garden is never finished, how boring would that be! I am forever changing and tweaking things, and every now and then I throw out everything in one part of the garden and start again. And now I am actually going to leave my house and garden and move somewhere else to start a new garden – that’s rather exciting! Just continue to see your garden as potentially wondrous, you’d never be bored :-)

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    1. Dear Helene, I guess that's when the garden's finished, when you leave it to start another one. I'll never be bored either. I look forward to following your new garden journey.

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  16. Non gardeners think that the object of the garden is to do it and have it done. We who love dirt, leaf, and sunshine know that the object is to be gardening. To dig, observe, weed, plant is what we do. Anyone can buy a designed space fully installed and done (like a floral arrangement bought at the grocery store) but we have the pleasure, responsibility, heartache, and joy of nurturing a living breathing piece of the planet.

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    1. Peter, that is so beautifully put - and so true - thank you.

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