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.
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!
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.
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.