Mother Nature Owns Your Garden

Song Sparrow sings from "his" Alberta spruce

Song Sparrow sings from “his” Alberta spruce

A few years ago while reading a garden anthology that featured several authors, one article by Gene Logsdon, aka The Contrary Farmer, gave me a new perspective on gardening. Up until that point, I had always viewed my yard and garden as my space, under my control, apart from Nature. He wrote that while most humans share this point of view, Mother Nature sees no delineation; all is her domain. When I realized how right he was, I had to laugh at myself for such pompous, egotistical thinking for all those years.


Robber fly (?) with moth on mown lawn

Nowadays, I don’t try as hard to control my garden space, as to work with Nature to create my visions.  Many of my beds I’ve let “return” to Nature (again, as if they were once apart!) and it is interesting to see what perishes and what survives. Not surprisingly, the balance favors mostly natives, however, I can see how invasive species from other lands can march through and quickly take over. Things that look so pretty and innocently little in a nursery can become nightmares. Knotweed, bittersweet, goutweed, loosestrife and most of the mint family come to mind. I think nursery owners should be required by law to state a plant’s true aggressive nature!

Garden, wild field and woods - all the same!

Garden, wild field and woods – all the same!

When my garden work overwhelms me, I try to remember that I am not trying to reach a goal, but I am involved in a process that never ends and thankfully so. It is that very constancy, the ever-present creative force that we depend on. What would we do if it stopped? Yes, the weeds, slugs and aphids would be gone, but as well so would the beautiful flowers, good food and beneficial insects. What we really want is balance and the peace that comes with it.

Wildflowers replaced former lawn

Wildflowers replaced former lawn

Many times I think Ma Nature is a better garden designer than I am. Often while walking in the woods or fields, I’ll stop to note beautiful combinations of wild plants that seem artfully arranged and think how I could use the design. (Nothing new here, humans have been imitating Nature since pre-historic times.) When self-sowing plants grow in my gardens I’ll let a few stay when they complement and improve the design I laid out. I am simply a director in her domain. I know nothing is ever static in a garden – it’s always changing and evolving. The gardening process is the point and I can rest easy with that.

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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35 Responses to Mother Nature Owns Your Garden

  1. dorannrule says:

    Working with nature instead of trying to tame her sounds like a might good idea Eliza. I keep looking at the weed bed along my driveway. I have left it untended and It now has a sort of planned artistic look. If asked, I will give Nature due credit. Otherwise I’ll claim the arrangement as my own! 🙂

  2. I love this perspective, Eliza. “director in her domain” is so apt and beautiful.

  3. mk says:

    What a soft, thoughtful meditation on nature and our place in it. Lovely. I also enjoy the names of the ill-behaved plants — knotweed, bittersweet, goutweed, loosestrife — such Dickensian names!

  4. twoscamps says:

    Ma Nature… she takes care of things. How could you not rest easy? Lovely post.

  5. What a beautiful post, Eliza 😉 Thank you for sharing photos from your garden which show the long view. Yes, let the process unfold! We can work with nature, but will always lose in the end when we try to oppose the natural flow of things…. Lovely photography today! Best wishes, WG

  6. Trini says:

    I love your gardening approach because I love wild things and freedom 🙂 🙂

  7. Your pictures are great, as always, and the wildflowers remind me of my childhood. Every time I visit your blog I feel like I recharge my battery. 🙂

  8. I hare that prospective. I love the free flow of nature. It is so peaceful to walk and enjoy it.

  9. Robbie says:

    ” I know nothing is ever static in a garden – it’s always changing and evolving. The gardening process is the point and I can rest easy with that” me,too…so well put, great post + I love the feel of the photos with the words….it feels natural just like our gardens when we don’t try to flows….
    I squeeze my food in among the nature + it works best….. I was trying to put up a trellis for snow peas the other day, and up above the bush, I was trimming back to fit my trellis was a “cat bird” sitting on her nest-wow…I was so amazed( she did not attack me, just looked at me),I stopped… it could wait until she was finished with her babies…she changed my course + I am so glad I saw her nest before I cut the deadwood out, I can wait for her + I greet her every morning with a hello, deadwood can wait to be cut out:-)…lovely post:-)

  10. Eliza Waters says:

    This tale is precisely what I wish everyone did! When we realize we share the world with all creatures and that this is their home, too, we make space for them. The other thing is to think what these small neighbors do for us – she will be eating lots of bugs/worms to feed herself and her young and what a boon for you and your garden. On top of that, her mate sings a lovely song for all to hear. A total win/win. Thanks for sharing this, Robbie!

  11. ladyfi says:

    How lush and lovely everything is!

  12. AmyRose says:

    Funny how I was just thinking along these same thoughts, Eliza. A few weeks ago, I wanted to photograph this creek, yet there were no trespassing signs where I wanted to walk. I stopped and asked, “How can anyone own a creek! This is not possible!” So, I ignored the signs, and I arrived at this magical little glen. Yes, I photographed that magical little glen. And as for my gardens, I thought as you did, MINE. I have more of a mindset now that what I do plant these things and more grow because it is their right to grow. I also just a few weeks back tugged a huge climbing vine weed out of my garden, and wouldn’t you know it, but the same darn plant is again in the same darn garden. Mint …. I’ve been finding those all over my gardens and have begun to let them grow. Great post by the way … I totally enjoyed it as you can see from my lengthy reply. (smile) Love, Amy

  13. I am soooooo with you on the perspective of one’s yard and nature. I was talking with a neighbor a few days ago and mentioned how I am working towards allowing my yard to be not a lawn of grass but to allow the natural plant-life of our region orchestrate the way of things and I be more of the conductor to aide in the ebb and flow.

    She said that that might be okay if I were living someplace arid like Arizona and you designed a yard with rocks and sand and cactus, but not someplace like ‘here’ (Midwest). Yes, one of the neighbors who don’t care for my driveway chicory among other things.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      You are not the first that I have heard from that reports rigid adherence to the Great American Lawn in the Midwest. Strong ideas that are slow to change! The monoculture, chemically dependent lawn is an unsustainable idea that was planted in the American consciousness through advertising. Only education and a changing of city ordinances will alter the perception. I wish you luck!

  14. Professions for PEACE says:

    Wow… what’s not to like? Beautifully written, beautiful photographed. Thank you for sharing this lovely tour of your garden along with your wise insights. I too replaced lawn with wildflowers and perennials and I am glad to be relaxed with what decides to join the fun in this casual yard. I weed in spurts and when the mood hits, and it seems to be working fine. Thanks again for this delightful share Eliza. Very enjoyable. Cheers, Gina

  15. clarabetty says:

    Wonderful post about having balance in our gardening between what we as humans do and what nature does. Also beautiful pictures!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks so much for your visit and compliments! Do you garden a little or a lot?

      • clarabetty says:

        I used to garden a lot, but since my heart attack and 2 bypasses – a little over a yr ago, II am not able to do as much or be out in the sun as much, I do as much as I can, sometimes staying at it too long and I also have someone help me with 4 lots, are hard for me to take care of all the weedwhacking and mowing. I do most of my planting and transplanting, I just don’t plant as much-have a smaller garden and taking out some flower beds. I am also doing more container gardening. I still have to get my hands in the soil.

      • Eliza Waters says:

        Sorry to hear about your health challenges, but I know that soil therapy is good for the body and soul. I’ve had to cut back the past few years and still could do less, but it is hard not to be out there with the plants, birds and bees. I envision gardening forever, even it is eventually only a window box!

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  17. I love the concept of working with nature, rather than seeing ourselves as above it or able to control it. I have been reading a little about permaculture lately and that seems to be the idea. Beautifu photos.

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