No, I’m sorry. Perhaps you’ve mistaken my garden for another. Mine is not well maintained at all, but barely managed. Still, there’s a time in May when all seems right about the garden. I’ll claim that it’s only for a day, but it’s longer, not a month, but perhaps two weeks when the garden looks just the way the gardener envisions it on a snowy January afternoon.
The lawn, never a priority to me, is lush and green, and mostly without weeds. Trees and shrubs are growing vigorously, and with perennials and bulbs planted thickly between there is little light or space for weeds. There are flowers at every turn, and foliage in vibrant greens, yellow, and red.
Considerable effort was required earlier in the spring to reach this point, and now for a few moments there is time to enjoy. In fact, by early May most of my labor to maintain the garden is complete, and with a low standard of neatness I’m satisfied to barely manage the garden through the remainder of the year. It’s possible during this two week period that a visitor might be fooled into believing that this is a well maintained garden, but a discerning eye will realize that the abundant foliage conceals an underlying wildness. It’s not quite a look that the gardener has given up and walked away, but compromises have been made. And, I’m not bothered by this at all.
This is not a manicured garden, to say the least. One tall boxwood is sheared into a cone, and this only because it was growing too wide across a path and the wife threatened taking matters into her own hands to keep the flagstone walk passable. She is aware that this flips a switch for me, and as soon as she picks up her pruners I spring into action. No other pruning is done except to cut out a stray dead branch, and occasionally to clip a branch that encroaches too far into a neighbor.
In fact, I’m disturbed when neighbors do not encroach into another’s space. Certainly, there are limits when one plant is too close to another, and one or the other is injured by the proximity. But, I prefer less defined lines between neighboring plants, so that one branch flops over another, and the wildness is barely controlled (or not).
This is not my wife’s preference. I think she would prefer a larger lawn, and a smaller garden. Paths should be wide, with stones that are stable and not obscured by wide spreading hostas and Forest grasses. Edges of planting beds should be sharply defined, and plants pruned in an orderly fashion (though not sheared into a series of balls. On this we agree.). Debris should be raked, swept, and discarded, and not left to decay.
Oh well, most of us learn early in life that not everything will go our way. Occasionally, there will be piles of debris, and some might linger from one year into another. In late spring the stone paths will be partially obscured by overhanging foliage, and beware what lurks beneath, so it’s best to move along quickly.
Mostly (and by mostly I mean completely), this garden is for me, and if anyone (with the minor exception of my wife) has other ideas, I’m sorry. There is certain to plenty in this garden to annoy dedicated gardeners, and if you must have order it’s probably best if you don’t drop by to visit. Plants are too close, the design is cluttered without a unifying theme, and heaven knows what else, but the garden is exactly how I prefer it, well maintained or not.