Too wild?

Here, neatness counts very little. Rambunctious growth is the goal in the garden. No doubt, this can go too far, paths disappear, and occasionally a favorite is overwhelmed by an exuberant neighbor. Editing is required, but to the barest minimum.

With neighboring plants encroaching, few of the garden’s plants would display well if dug and set into the garden center. But, barely tamed combinations, more foliage than flower, are the objective. Most plants play splendidly with others, with branches weaving betwixt and between, and no matter that every tree and shrub is one sided with a neighbor filling the other half.

Strawberry begonia (Saxifraga) and Japanese Painted ferns have spread into gravel beside the stream.

In shaded parts of the garden, Sensitive and Japanese Painted ferns appear spontaneously, encouraged by the moisture of three ponds of the upper, rear garden and soil naturally amended by fallen leaves. The taller Sensitive ferns, all native sporelings with none planted, must occasionally be weeded out, but the fern agreeably fills any open, shaded ground.

Volunteer ferns and geraniums join mondo grass and toad lilies along the path.

I cannot recall which Painted ferns were planted, though a few named varieties stand out. Most have spread from spores, and ones that grow between path stones are often moved to safer ground. Hosta seedlings are sometimes weeded, occasionally moved to spaces that will accommodate the wide spreading, large blue-green leafed hostas. The more rare, small leafed hosta seedlings are always kept and moved where they can frequently be viewed.

Seedlings of Espresso geranium appear through leaves of a seedling hosta. The geranium is gaining ground on a nearby spreading liriope (Liriope spicata).

Seedlings of the dark leafed ‘Espresso’ geranium are abundant, often weeded from gaps between stones in the sunny patio beside the koi pond, but left to spread otherwise. It is surprisingly vigorous, once crowding out a fernleaf spurge that is considered as invasive in some gardens. Seedlings of this native geranium are variable in foliage color, but with occasional editing to protect other favorites, it is encouraged to roam.

Hostas, saxifraga, and sweetbox (Sarcococca) encroach onto the stone path.

It seems the assistant gardener (my wife) has retired from her ceaseless chopping of any leaf or branch that strays over a path. Still, I occasionally see sprigs of ivy or ostrich fern in the trash barrel, but she considers this a lost cause, I think. It is possible that she also enjoys the wildness, but she also despises the small patches of odd ivies that sometimes creep onto the path stones. Now, with editing left for the most part only to me, the wildness spreads.

Liriope, violets, and blue star creeper edge this path.

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