Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows that chaos rules in the gardens high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top. There is no budget and no staff for the ever expanding gardens now aiming for three acres of semi-cultivation. It is tended by gardeners with big appetites and an appreciation for a wide array of botanical personalities both nursery bought and those of wilder origins.
And when the lush gets going, well it just grows faster than the gardeners with so much land in semi-cultivation and not enough time can get to.
The Renegade Gardener had second thoughts over Garden Rant's manifesto item "In love with real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden gardens", feeling that gardening well mattered more. Susan then wanted to know what do gardeners really think about "real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden" versus "perfect magazine" gardens, particularly the chaos part?
Let me just say that when that's what you got, when the site and the situation both lean towards chaos, well you learn to live with it. Sometimes grudgingly and sometimes in utter amazement at what astounding design and beauty nature is capable of in the guise of chaos.
The gardeners keep at it. Planting and planting some more in the hopes the chaos will subside when the plants fill in. Weeding and weeding and weeding in a vain attempt to keep the lush at bay and give the plants a chance to fill in. The gardeners are only vaguely aware that in many not so subtle ways their large appetites contribute to the chaos.
But what does "gardening well" really mean. Is this a design competition or is this about the plants? When over 90% of plants planted, seeds scattered and bulbs buried survive, thrive and multiply under the watchful eye of the gardener does that count as gardening well even if chaos constantly attempts to fill any void?
My designer self saw what I was up against in this setting and my maintenance gardener self keeps saying the only way to beat the chaos is by winning the lottery. Chances of that are slim. I want someone else to buy the tickets and give me the jackpot.
So not only am I constantly being taught to live with chaos by a power greater than me, I am learning how to design organized chaos that will blend right in with the natural surroundings.
Am I gardening well yet? A good part of this chaos was well thought out. I planted it to look like this. How many people passing by will know this is not wild lush, it is gardener designed lush? A few have known or knew something was different about this spot alongside the road because they stopped. They got out of their cars and they took all kinds of pictures. This was no ordinary chaos.
When I need order I have a place to go. It is small by comparison to the great expanse around. It is completely surrounded on all sides by exuberant chaos enhanced by gardeners with large appetites. Wild chaos would not be as species rich. Wild chaos would not bloom over such a long period of time.
How does a gardener take a roadside weed like Chicory and arrange it so that cars actually come to a stop?
Am I gardening well yet? It's hard to tell with all this chaos.