Minimal intervention

For better, or perhaps the worse if you are to take the word of my wife, my attentions are occupied by planting, and thereafter, by leaving the garden to grow as it pleases. Certainly, weeding must be done on occasion, but every other task, fertilizing, mulching, pruning, is done at the bare minimum, or not at all.

Here, there is an amount of laziness, but more a preference for a relaxed, less manicured feel to the garden. How many times have I marveled at branches that wind through a neighbor’s in an unintended creation of color and texture? If plants were chopped into shape there would be none of this. And with this, I must defend the impulse to plant too many things, seemingly too close. Occasionally, this doesn’t work, but sometimes (more often?) it does, at least to my eye. No, I cannot vouch for this in every case, but I don’t criticize it either, when proper plants are selected that will not obviously clash to the detriment of both.

Ivy, hosta, and ferns border this bluestone path.The ivy is regularly pruned by my wife to keep it from growing over the stones.

More than a time or two, I’ve thoughtlessly planted, probably inappropriately, and the results have been superb. Admittedly, a few times have not worked so well, but at my worst I’m likely to be thinking, even when I’m not aware that proper planning is taking place (I’m not as stupid as I think I am?)

I have noted here many times that my wife is the primary pruner and keeper of order in this garden. Ivies and hostas that stray onto paths are chopped, and she was recently blamed for butchering a hosta that she claims was done by deer. No matter, her pruning is occasionally clumsy, but someone must do it, and it’s obvious it won’t be me.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. The English Gardener says:

    Dave,
    I share your philosophy in many approaches to gardening. That less is more when it comes to maintenance, fussing, and planting every plant that I come across in a relaxed type of landscaping. It pains me to lose a plant or even to trim my Japanese Maples.
    So why do I apologize about the “disorder”, and feel guilty when my neighbors say they slow down as they are passing to admire my garden?
    The English Gardener

    1. Dave says:

      I had to prune branches of the weeping maple along the driveway a few days ago. I borrowed a pickup to bring home plants, and it could not fit down the drive without breaking branches. So, it pained me to do it, but I cut out a few select branches. I was quite happy that my wife couldn’t tell it had been pruned.

  2. Linus says:

    I like the fern coming out of the hostas. But the fern isn’t too aggressive and overtake the hostas, or do you periodically remove fern divisions?

    1. Dave says:

      I believe this Ostrich fern has been pulled out, courtesy of my wife. She dictates that no ferns grow closer than two and a half feet of the path so that fronds do not encroach. Most often she catches these when they’re small and easy to pull.

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Landscapes in redwood forest are mostly very relaxed. Formality just does not fit well. It is not easy for those of us who prefer formality and symmetry.

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