A little wild

My wife objects to a spreading liriope (Liriope spicata) that creeps into gaps between path stones. She makes a point to squash them, figuring this will encourage me to dig them out, and while this temporarily makes them unsightly, this barely inhibits their growth. My standards are not so high that a momentarily disfigured plant is a bother. Certainly, this liriope is one I’m not particularly fond of, but it spreads at a moderate pace to cover ground and keep weeds to a minimum. Yes, I occasionally pull clumps that pop up in the paths, but they’re not much of a problem to my thinking. Filling gaps or flopping to soften hard surfaces is good, I think, but she regularly prowls the garden, pruners in hand to thwart such invasions.

This circular patio is retained on the upper side by granite boulders with dwarf hostas and ferns planted in gaps between stones.
Yellow and orange flowered deciduous azaleas have grown as tall as the nearby redbud and fringetree.

There is no doubt that my wife and I have different concepts of what the garden should be. She prefers more order, and I adore the chaos of neighbors colliding with one another, as long as each has space to be seen. I am thrilled when a seedling comes up through a clump of something, with accidental groupings often topping my best efforts.

Maresi viburnum overhangs the stream.
Branches of Stellar Pink dogwood wind through a Parviflora pine under the canopy of the Bigleaf magnolia.

This garden has not been constructed according to a grand design, but cobbled together over three decades, and while I don’t recommend this course for anyone else, it seems to have worked here. No doubt, some might cringe as the canopy of a dogwood merges with a Japanese maple (then to a serviceberry), and tall deciduous azaleas (below) with brightly colored and fragrant blooms wind between branches of a variegated redbud.

Stones in the path wobble over shallow roots, bordered by a dwarf cryptomeria, plum yews, hostas, and ferns.

Here, there is no repetition, no massing, and perhaps this is chaotic to the eye, but a neighbor visiting recently remarked the garden made him want to do yoga (and he doesn’t). I am not tempted, but the garden is a place to relax, to contemplate, and to wonder. Yes, there are flowers every day of the year, but my eye is often captured by contrasts of texture and foliage colors that are occasionally planned but often accidental. If art, rather than mere accident, is involved in the design of this garden, it is in the lack of structure, and while there are stone paths and patios scattered throughout, unmanicured plants are the focus.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Bridget says:

    You are an inspiration! How lovely to see your beautiful garden. I can only hope to achieve this level of cohesive chaos myself someday! Thank you!

    1. Dave says:

      There is little question that being in a garden for three decades allows plants to mature, which is often to the benefit of its appearance, though not always. I hope, also, that I have made some good choices that have grown in attractively.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I LOVE the choas of your garden! It makes me happy to see all the blending oif different plants.

    1. Dave says:

      I have made plenty of mistakes along the way. In recent years a few large, declining evergreens have been removed, but I think this has been beneficial.

  3. Beautiful! I just love your stonework and pathways, and the contrasting plants.

    1. Dave says:

      I must put a stop to adding stone. Between last year and earlier this spring I’ve added several tons of granite boulders to raise planting areas and to plant succulents in crevices. I warn visitors before they take a step into the garden to watch their footing first, and plants second since some sections of paths are very wobbly with surface roots. If this garden was more public I’d have to stabilize the paths, but mostly it’s just me.

  4. Your garden is beautiful 🙂

  5. Fran Lawrence says:

    It’s hard to argue with The Grand Designer!! No better inspiration or artist! The fun is seeing what comes next.😊 Trust the Michelangelo in the Sky doesn’t mind a bit of editing, if it frees a lovely Rhododendron from being choked by bind weed and blackberries, for instance . But your garden looks beautiful! A garden should be a happy balance between nature in the wild and the human play of gardening in my view!

  6. Julie Cicak says:

    Your garden reflects the life of the gardener. The walks through the gardens tell the story. I just advised a new home owner to first think of plants that remind them of times in their lives or people they love then know where they can grow best. Just like eras of our own lives, plants have seasons that recur and new additions to enjoy. Thanks for sharing your soul with us!

    1. Dave says:

      Oh no. Overgrown, chaotic, poorly managed.

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