I was working in one of my regular gardens about a week ago or so and my customer took me to one side and asked me to stop buying plants for the garden for the time being. Just to be clear, I would probably be putting a new plant in every three months or so , not hundreds of plants every week. But my point is that I was sad that she did not want to keep the garden developing. Because that is what I think a garden should do, it changes and develops all the time, it’s like a painting or a narrative. I think when you stop adding or taking away in the garden it does not just stop, it goes backwards, it gets stagnant.
Its all part of the delight to play around with different textures and colours, to make things work or not work as the case may be some times. It’s good to cultivate a look, play with an idea. Gardens are like never ending stories, telling us a story about the gardener, his or her likes or dislikes. Their obsessions and fads, their weaknesses and strengths, their triumphs and disasters! When the garden stops developing the story still goes on but perhaps it takes a turn for the worse, like a bad fairy tale ; ).
Take my own garden for example. I bought a job lot of border phlox and stuffed them in the borders, of course I did not know their eventual height or colour, well, I can tell you that the ones that didn’t get chopped down mid summer will be dug out and moved – they all (except the white one) looked the wrong colour in the beds and some even had the audacity to be much taller than their neighbours (they looked silly). Bright pink and bright yellow together yuk!!
On the other hand my tall border (with the staked teasels – bloody wind!) has worked really well, but I’m now missing something around the outside as I’ve enlarged that border because it worked so well (see! Evolving garden) and no, the phlox wont be moving here!
I can’t remember where (I think the RHS magazine) but I read an article that referred to this chopping and changing as editing and I think that’s a great term – editing the garden. “I’m just off out to edit the garden darling, won’t be long”.
Anyway back to the original garden I was discussing – Maybe I’ll be a sneaky gardener and smuggle new plants into the garden to keep editing it. And when she asks “I like that , is it new?” I’ll say “Oh this old thing? We’ve had it in the garden for ages!”