Gardeners are perfectionists. We give ourselves high marks for weed free, mulched, pruned, and manicured gardens.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love to flip through the pages of a glossy magazine gazing at magnificently coiffed gardens as much as anyone. Who doesn’t?
When I was a beginning gardener, I started with a velvet red climbing rose bush that I bought at the grocery store.
Over the next 10 years, I turned my garden into a showcase. I learned, experimented, tore out, renovated, dug up, made mistakes, and created a haven.
But as the word got out about my garden and I was asked to be on garden tours, my mildly obsessive nature turned into a full blown case of ‘OMG, this place has got to look perfect when they come.”
My love of gardening had been overtaken by a sense of self imposed responsibility.
Over the next couple of years, against my conventional wisdom but following my heart, I started to let things go. I no longer religiously weeded my hill of lavender and Russian Sage. I stopped edging the end of a long bed, leaving the huge perennial grasses to their natural inclination of breaking the boundaries.
I was learning to surrender, to not have the need to control. No more tours but friends were always welcome.
My profile went down in the world of ‘garden showcasing’, but I was back to loving the process of gardening; digging, feeling the dirt in my hand, and plucking fresh tomatoes off the vine.
I am now designing a new garden for myself, a rooftop in a Mediterranean climate. This time around, I’m purposely not checking out other gardens and am having a blast. When a landscape architect friend of mine recently came to visit, he hesitatingly told me how charming and quaint my garden was and then proceeded to tell me that he would have designed it differently.