22 March 2010

I may have an ugly garden. Depends on what day you look.

The past few days, there's been a disturbance in the garden blogging 'Force.' It all stemmed from a post made, perhaps with the best of intentions, about ugly unkempt gardens, mostly of the vegetable type. We’ve had a lot of sometimes heated talk in the past few days about ugly gardens, and messy gardens, and gardens with no design to them, and WEEDS, my dears.

There’s been twittering. There’s been blogging. There’s been myriad comments in defense and in umbrage of the original post, and I’m not gonna name the blog nor the blogger, but I am gonna confess my own sins.



Well, to begin I have this thing about weeds. The worst weeds in my estimation aren’t ‘weeds’ at all, but naughty ornamentals gone out of control. Like the bane of my existence, goutweed (Aegopodium). But otherwise...I really like most of the plants that many would call weeds.

I grow milkweed (Asclepias syriaca AND A. incarnata along with butterfly weed, A. tuberosa). I do this to help out the monarch butterflies, which cannot survive without milkweed. I also let a honkin' big patch of nettles grow up by the spruce trees, because there are the food source for red admiral butterflys (in cat form). I let a lot of wild plants--daisies, goldenrod, asters--do their own thing MOSTLY outside the garden beds, but if one or two plants creep into the perennial borders, no biggie. Bees, songbirds, butterflies, and other benign creatures depend on these plants to help them survive.

There are also gorgeous, glorious wild orchids on our property, some species of Platanthera (fringed orchids) and Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium), a hugely important butterfly plant. And spruce trees, and young firs, and mountain ash, and scubby wire birch, and carex and juncus and many species of wild grasses, many other shrubs and trees, growing in a blissful and healthy riot in the upper parts of the property.


Along the lower border, edging the paddock and a swampy ditch, there are willows, which many people decry as being bad plants. They take up some of the swampiness and create habitat for my beloved frogs. There are major numbers of cattails in the pond; perfect hiding places for small reptiles and amphibians, nesting places for my beloved redwinged blackbirds. There are alders all along the edge of our pond, bounding much of our property, and creeping into the lower pasture where we haven't mowed for several years. Alders are despised by many people. But they are excellent plants for securing stream and creek banks, filtering out toxins from water, providing food and shelter for wildlife.


There are dandelions in my lawn. Lots of clover. These both feed the bees, while all the perfect lawns at the McMansions a few miles off with their lethal doses of chemicals don't feed anything except the wallets of lawn care companies and big chemical.


All these things would give the average suburban home association a massive attack of the pearlclutching vapours. I'm blessed, however: I live on 7 acres, with a woodlot to the north of me, hayfields to the south, and a benign neighbour up the road and across about 200 feet. However, those driving by can't see what I'm up to, and you know what? I don't care if they do. (Oh, but Grace, I did finally get the Christmas wreaths and the swagging off the house and arbour. Today. The snow finally was gone from the base of the arbour that we could move it.)

This time of year, everything is a mess. As you'll see from the photos, even today, there is still snow in some areas. As it melts, it makes parts of the yard very squishy. In an effort not to compact things down more, we're only working around the edges of the drier gardens. I test a lot of plants, and so we don't always have big drifts of perennials because I'm trying a new shrub or perennial and things are accordingly spotty. But colourful.

In our family, I'm the primary income earner, which I do as a freelance writer, photographer, editor, sometime speaker. A lot of my income comes from talking about/writing about/taking photographs of gardens and gardening. And my mantra is "We can all grow great gardens.'

What that term 'great garden' means to you may be totally different from what it means to me. Here, my great garden is a mix of natives and introduced, heritage and hybrids, brand new and old faithfuls, trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, ephemerals, annuals, bulbs, herbs, even a wee few vegetables. Yours may be three scarlet geraniums in a clay pot on a deck. They're both awesome, because they bring us joy.

In being a freelancer, rather than working for some company as a writer, things can be challenging. I have one client who is always significantly behind in paying me, and others that are occasional clients, others who are awesome and regular, which help me to build cushions for when I'm waiting to be paid by the big client who likes to hang onto their money til the last moment. So I don't have the spare cash to, say, hire a designer to deal with levelling some of the land or building me the stone wall I dearly want or doing any of a hundred other things that could be done. So we do them ourselves, what we can. This year, I am adding more soil as soon as I find some that is decent. I want to join a few beds, top up some areas, raise one section for an idea I have. Due to health issues, mostly mine, we can't do a whole lot in the run of a day, either. A couple hours for me and I can barely move, and I'm in constant, tedious, pain. But I work away at it, and LSS helps when he's not cutting firewood or doing some odd job elsewhere, or working at his own passions (his boat).

So it's not designer-perfect. But it's ours and we love it. If you don't love it, well, then send me some of your spare cash and I'll hire a friend of mine to improve it. Or, just don't look at it. We won't be offended.

And you, whether you have a balcony of succulents or a 20,000 landscaping job, whether you live on a suburban plot or revel in wide open spaces like we do...I hope you love your garden too. Just as long as it's yours and it makes you happy, it's all good. I won't criticize, but I will cheer you on.

I just want people to plant gardens, and plant things they enjoy, and enjoy what they do. Beyond that, we're learn as we grow together. It's NOT all easy, for sure. It can be strenuous, expensive, timeconsuming, frustrating. It can also be heaven on earth.

So just bloom where you're planted, have fun. If something doesn't work, try again next year, or use something else.

Like me. This afternoon, I go to say my last goodbye to my friend Dick. Tonight, if it's not snowing, I'll plant two American chestnut trees in his memory. That's what he wanted: for people to honour the earth in his memory by planting a tree.

Namasté, fellow gardeners. Onward and upward.

65 comments:

  1. Great post, Jodi.

    Although looking at your pics I don't see how it qualifies as "ugly" but I think we'll let you in the club. You can be the one gardener that raises the curve for the rest of us.

    LOL.

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  2. Great post Jodi! I agree with you completely. Love the term 'spotty but colourful', my garden is the same way as I am also still somewhat in the experimental phase of plantings. You pictures are stunning, but the way, and look completely cohesive. I also believe that garden beauty is different for everyone, so much is written on how things 'should be', but that is different for everyone, I often think there are no WRONGS, some things will appeal to the masses more than others, but if someone wants a large, triangular bed in the middle of their front yard, with small plants to the middle, there's nothing *wrong* with it, it's completely their perrogative. I also ponder at the term 'weed' since I feel it is completely subjective. Great post, with lots of food for thought!

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  3. A timely post. I read the famous post about veggie garden standards that seems to be causing a bit of a flap. One should be able to do what one likes in the (veggie) garden. There are enough rules, laws, and traditions in life to worry about. Why stress about the garden, a place most people have to relax in (though I must say, I do more working than sitting around in mine)?

    Christine in Alaska

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  4. Greetings n Namaste to you too :):)

    Lovely post, speaks voloume n volumes abt the beautiful person that you are. Thx for sharing the pictures and tidbits about your like. Gardening is pure joy and very satisfying for a plant lover. Hope we all continue to plant gardens of our own making, enjoying n sharing our experiences along the way. Cheers! Radhika

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  5. Jodi, that was a wonderful read and a very moving post even for someone who missed the original debate!
    Don't take any offer of money for 'improvements'! Your garden is beautiful as it is and all the more lovely, I am sure, when enhanced by a delighted bee or butterfly visiting your flowers.
    As you say each to their own, but nature will always be welcome in my garden too and I guess all gardens belong to her in the long run!

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  6. Not having seen or read the provocative post, I realise I have to tread as sensitively as I can - but I think land around someone's home is in their care and for them to do as they like with it. I don't even think they need to garden in it if they don't want to. If they do, then loving it is special. Some people like gardening, never mind what it looks like, design doesn't matter, they just like to see things grow. Some people like gardens. The two aren't necessarily the same. They don't even have to happen in the same place. Just, sometimes, they do.

    From the photos you show here, it seems you have a range of gardens within a garden and someone is bound to find something to their taste (as well as not).

    Because I have a photography blog, I look at other photography blogs - and see that interest and beauty can often be found in the most derelict of places . . . where woods and old lorries get intermeshed, where ivy pulls at walls. Perfection is for perfectionists and catalogues. For me - I like a healthy supply of interest, both natural and un-natural. No, that doesn't sound right! Oh, you know what I mean!

    (By the way, I weed ROUND dandelions!)

    Lucy

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  7. Onward is right, dear Jodi. Let us get past any disturbance in the land of garden blogging, life is too short to waste one precious nanosecond on such talk. May we all love our gardens, as you say, and encourage others to do the same.
    Frances

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  8. Why I shoot mostly close ups this time of year.

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  9. Lovely post, Jodi, thanks for sharing your garden with us! I'm entirely with you -- if you don't like it, don't look at it, right? Though I can't imagine not wanting to look at your garden -- what an amazing place!

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  10. Jodi girl ( a fellow chronic pain pal : )
    I could never critize anyone else's garden, point blank .. I guess I missed this whole episode of the argument ? .. just as well .. I need as little stress as possible ? haha
    I may critize my own garden, but it runs along the thought of "it" is my child, and so my job to critize for improving it, is my right .. some what like a real child .. heaven help some one other than I, that critizes them ?
    All in all I love my garden to bits and I so appreciate it .. after leading such a nomadic life style with my own family and then the military .. well you can't help but love what I see as my own little piece of the earth.
    I hope you will feel better very soon and the trees in memory of your friend is a perfect planting.

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  11. Yup, I read about that post and found it interesting and valid, though it sure bothered some folks. Such is life. We all have our own opinions. My opinion and mantra is that all gardens are as individual as the individual. Not all individuals appeal to us and not all gardens will either but they are all beautiful in their own way (both the individual and the garden). The very fact someone gardens and perhaps loves their garden makes it beautiful to all who enter.

    I must say your garden does not look ugly at all. Quite colorful and beautiful. I think this is the most I've seen of it before. Seven acres must keep you MOST busy!

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  12. Well said. Beauty is everywhere, even in the leanest and meanest of places. Gardening is an emotional thing, we all love our own. Yours, by the way, is wonderful!

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  13. Sometimes I am glad I don't tweet. Especially when someone puts their foot in their mouth or worse yet someone elses. I loved seeing your before and after shots. My garden is going through that transition now. There is always a time when the weeds take over. When you are ill or just get out of the mood to do things. Then the gardener in you awakens or gets well and you dig in and clean up. Hang in there. Summer will be upon us soon and everyone will have happy things to talk about in their garden.

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  14. Jodi,

    No way I'd call your garden ugly... with or without the provocation from this debate. Bring on the Monarchs!

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  15. Well then. Interesting that folks're twittering about unkempt gardens. Me? I'll take an interesting brambling garden with native plants any day over the sterile, chemically induced, landscaped to an inth degree "garden" in mega-subdivisions. Give me acreage and messy vines and milkweed! I love this post completely and agree with you 100%!!!

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  16. Jodi, I hope this makes you feel better about having gout weed (the bane of your existence) in your garden:
    Gout weed is featured in a special bed with it's very own plant plaque in the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal.
    Judy Bee

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  17. There's also a current post about plastic lawns. Which can only be offered to, and chosen by, those poor unfortunate souls, who look at nature, and say - It's green, it's nasty. It's alive! Make it go away!

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  18. Hi Jody, sometimes I feel the need to trot out the excuses why my garden, and especially my lawn, doesn't always look like a page from from a garden magazine. Full time job, environmental concerns, lack of cash... Anyway, there really isn't any need for excuses. We all do what is important to us. To you and I it is the environment, butterflies, birds, healthy soil and water. I couldn't live with a perfect lawn knowing what poisons were beneath it in the soil. Your garden looks good to me and so does mine:)
    Marnie

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  19. Jodi: Very well said! A garden is for its gardener's joy, not others. Your garden is very beautiful to my eyes. I have a small garden, and trying to tackle the project one at a time by ourselves. It is lots of fun, although also lots of work and sweat :)

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  20. Jodi, If you hear a knock on your door sometime this summer it could be me~~wanting to hang out in your beautiful garden! It's so lovely. Gail

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  21. Excellent post :D I admit that I have garden envy sometimes...I look out at my gardens and think they're ugly compared to a lot of people's. I don't have the money to do up one that looks like it came out of a garden magazine. But you're right. The gardens are mine, i made them, and if I'm the only one that enjoys them, that's the important thing, right? :)

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  22. If you plant a garden for others to like it will never live up to someone elses expectations. If you plant a garden for yourself it will always be beautiful to you.

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  23. Must admit your post last night piqued my interest and I eventually found the original post and lots of other threads from that. I was hooked reading all the comments for hours. Wow, what passion and controversy. It made me think. Although I can sort of understand some of the original controversial post, I'm glad you wrote what you did too. It made me feel good about my own little plot, full of mistakes and blunders and a lot of good surprises too. As for those communities that don't want to allow veggie plots, well they don't allow wash lines either since they are considered unsightly too. Not very eco minded is it? My lawn, like your has dandelions, clover and English daisy, I refuse to use pesticides and herbicides because of the birds and insects in the garden. Thanks Jodi.

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  24. Such a wonderfully written post and a beautiful garden.

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  25. jodi,

    that is such a beautiful post, i'm in awe!

    now excuse me i'll just have to retweet this now!

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  26. I'm with you on this one Jodi - I've been following this through twitter thanks to Mr Brown Thumb so I've seen the foray. We all have different tastes in clothes, furniture etc so why shouldn't we all have different tastes in our gardens. No one wants to have a copybook garden - we all want individuality and a garden should first and foremost bring pleasure to the gardener who tends and nutures it.

    I think your garden looks fabulous seeing the photos from last autumn time and now I get a sense of how big it really is.

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  27. I'm in the garden envy category at the moment. Everyone's garden is prettier than mine!!!

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  28. Hi Jodi,

    Reading through you entry today I knew it didn't sound like you and something was up...got to the part of our gardening friend Cpt. D. Steel and wished I had known today was the day so I could have gone. Just getting back from being away I didn't hear until I read your previous blog about him. I am so glad you are able to go...I have my special tree planted years ago from him and will stand beside it's magestic spendor and say a little prayer to him.
    Any hey...my garden looks like yours and has some piles of snow here and there...so do not feel bad about your property...the sun will shine again on it and you!
    All my best,
    Ericka

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  29. I am, personally, no longer of the opinion that unkempt garden areas are necessarily 'ugly'. In fact, I believe they are critical to a HEALTHY garden. Your garden is lovely, in both the more manicured, and less kept areas, and both have value, be it aesthetic quality, or valued habitat for your frogs and other native wild plants and animals. If we all kept sterile manicured gardens, it would squelch the diversity of both plant and animal species. Yes, veggie gardens certainly can get a bit shabby, but it's nothing some well placed blooming plants to attract pollinators can't usually fix. I for one, am becoming a big fan of the more casual, less stiff appearing gardens, but like you, I have the acreage here such that my neighbors needn't get riled about what goes on in my gardens.

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  30. Great post Jodi! I don't consider any of the gardens you showed as ugly. They seem right up my alley with the planted plants taking over. I wonder what that says about my garden!? ;)

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  31. I think anyone would be hard pressed to have a 'perfectly tidy' garden, unless you are talking about my father-in-law. I think it takes courage to show that there are some less then perfect areas in the garden. I love how you point out that garden are there for the enjoyment of their owners....not necessarily as neat and tidy showcases.

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  32. Well it doesn't look like your garden fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, Jodi, or I'm guessing you must've mixed up the before and after photos cause it looks mighty purty to me.

    I've jumped into the foray myself ( you know that I'm the middle child :-) with a post titled " The Bright Side of Gardening. "

    While I don't have OCD, I also don't like clutter and chaos in either home and garden. I'm a firm believer in that a "Garden is a solace for the eye and soul. " And I found a lot in yours so you are hereby disqualified to write about the ugly side seeing as how you don't have one :-)

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  33. Hi, Jodi. I had no idea that there's been a scuffle, and am happy I missed out. Gardening, either physically or via Blotanical, is pure joy to me and I'd hate to experience any discord.

    Inasmuch, I must remember to be mindful when making comments becuase I have, at times, inadvertently made comments that may be taken out of context. I wouldn't want to hurt someone else's feelings or offend.

    Regarding your post and garden...UGLY...not a chance!! Regarding weeds, they're just plants you don't like (I think blotanist Sanddune said that). Regarding your friend, again, I'm so glad you have precious memories...these will help heal your sadness and loss.

    Great post, per usual, Jodi!

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  34. Great post, I have to agree with you that as long as someone clearly loves, cherishes and maintains their garden then I cannot see what it matters just exactly how it's designed or which plants they use in it.

    I aim to have mostly native plants, this includes many 'weeds' and in my eyes, weeds are simply unwanted plants, so if you were so inclined then a Coneflower could be classed as a weed.
    I want to attract nature, and if that means keeping the clover then so be it - which also helps fix nitrate back into the soil, meaning less feeding is required, not that I use any chemicals on my grass!

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  35. I would love to see this blog about "ugly" gardens. Maybe you could email the link to me?

    Your garden is NOT ugly. Looking at all the photos, I wish my gardens looked half as good. I'm lazy and have some spinal arthritis and bad knees but I do what I can when there's no pain.

    A garden designer should be knocking on your door for pro-bono work in my opinion.

    Gardening is not about orderly trimmed parterres, or picture-perfect vegetable rows. That's a Victorian attitude. Nature is not neat and tidy! She surprises us by encouraging plants to "volunteer" through birds or seeds blowing in the wind. I love nature's surprises. It's almost mystical.

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  36. It's hard to believe our gardens will ever be that lush & colorful again, but it won't be long. I like visiting private gardens because of their individuality, reflecting the personality of the gardener in a way that a public or institutional garden never can. A well-loved garden is a beacon calling to passersby to take a closer look, watch the bees and butterflies, and share an experience.

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  37. I enjoyed your post, Jodi! Well, your garden is beautiful! When I first started garden blogging, I didn't want to show my whole garden because I didn't think it was good enough. I am slowly adding to it and it is becoming something that I love. One day, I thought....what the heck, I will take the risk and show it all.
    I guess we shouldn't feel that way because we cannot always please everyone, so we need to please ourself (isn't that a song?) If we all had the same tastes then our gardens wouldn't be as diverse and interesting. I am slowly growing my garden and I am proud of what I have done and that is all that matters. :) I like some weeds....You have the best thought provoking posts.

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  38. Because we were out of town I missed all the controversy -- but I loved your heartfelt response, Jodi. I echo your sentiments; it's all about the love. I have been in stately formal gardens that left me cold and overrun gardens tended in spare stolen moments away from the regular farm work that made my spirits soar -- and everything in between. :)

    Your garden is lovely, but you made a great point in showcasing the contrast provided by the natural seasons. My own garden is not that aesthetically pleasing unless it's at nearly peak season -- and even then it's clearly a vegetable garden. ;) But I do love it so...

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  39. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend and love the idea of the trees planted in his memory.

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  40. Weeding may be destructive but a perfectly bare, dug or raked piece of earth is satisfying and beautiful.

    Esther

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  41. Jodi,
    I most heartily applaud this post. If I may, gardens are much like people. Each an individual,if you will, with personalities, beauty, flaws, and quirks all their own. It sets them apart from any other garden. Some are high maintenance, while others, like you say, are a not, that simple pot of geraniums..
    I also love that you've mentioned the chemical companies. They make money for themselves,and contribute nothing postive to this planet except to line their shareholders pockets. And finally, your mentioning of goutweed made me cringe. I must admit, I have no tolerance for this plant in my garden! I don't find it unnattractive and it can be useful, however, I remember my mother battling it for years in her garden as some had crept over from our neighbors. She finally ended up grassing that part of our yard in.
    Done with my rant. Apologies for the long message. Your garden is lovely..
    K

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  42. I seem to remember an old saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

    That includes gardens too. We each have different tastes in plants and as long as you are happy with what you have, so be it.

    I saw a few of the tweets about the original article and thought some of those folks needed to relax and do something other than tear down the author.

    What would this world look like if we all had gardens that looked perfect and alike? BORING!

    Thanks for the post.

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  43. Well Jodi~~ I'm out of the loop and missed all the excitement. I think the most important thing is just get out there and do it. There will always be snobs to criticize but many more who are happy to see the gardener in the garden having fun.

    I'm glad you were able to get your wreaths down except that you're making me look bad with my neglected attention towards a string of Christmas lights still stapled to the fence. :)

    I'm glad the snow is gone. I hope you have decent weather that coincides with free time so you can putter to your heart's content.

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  44. I missed THE post, but now I'm curious and will try to find it. Sometimes, I use an expression "an artistic mess". So, if your garden is a mess, then it is an artistic mess! As for my own garden, I am a minority in our neighborhood: I have a vegetable garden and don't have any hired garden help. I guess, if some matrons would learn that I have a compost pile, they would be in a shock.
    Happy spring to you, Jodi!

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  45. Seems like that every where I go tonight, I run into this stuff about "the right way." For crying out loud, there is no right way. i joined Blotanical to get away from the garden snobs.
    Jodi, your yard is breathtaking. Your early spring garden looks like mine, just not so muddy. I also grow milkweed and goldenrod. jim

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  46. It's about time that someone posted about undesign! It gives me quite a complex when I read post after post about perfect garden design. I generally just buy things I like and throw them in the ground where they fit. If it works out, great. If not, I move it or get something else. I agree with you on weeds - but I do let them into my garden. In fact, the oxeye daisies run rampant in my garden and I couldn't be happier. They are great filler plants. and best of all, they are FREE!
    Weeds are great!

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  47. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, just as beauty is. I love that you plant things for the butterflies and leave nettles for them. I have to fight to keep the gardeners away from the nettles. I work at a large resort hotel and they don't think nettles are appropriate. So I made an interpretive sign that explains the uses of nettles and now they are one of the most popular plants. Education is a marvelous thing.
    Keep gardening and writing - you do both very well.
    Cindee

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  48. Jodi, I love your garden (and I love mine) and can think of nothing lovelier than having you give me a personal tour. One of my favorite pastimes is walking a garden with a friend. Happy Spring Gardening!

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  49. Live and let live I say - unless you are causing someone harm. Being a garden control freak must be very exhausting - which is why I tend towards the easy going instead. I have moments of tidiness but thankfully they are short lived.

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  50. Wonderful post, jodi, and I cannot imagine your garden ever being "ugly". In fact, I don't believe there's any such thing as an ugly garden. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, to be sure, and for me, that beauty comes from the feeling I get every time I see a new bloom open, or a tomato start to form, or the first taste of chard from my garden, even if it comes from a small pot. I read the (to me) offending post and I think the author must be very arrogant. Now that's something I *wouldn't* want in my garden. ;-)

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  51. Sorry for the loss of your friend. Planting trees is a wonderful memorial.

    Your garden is fabulous and had it not been for this controversy (that I am now catching up on, but I think it was a blog that I removed from my blogroll a few days ago because I was tired of it)...I probably wouldn't have found your blog! I'll be a regular reader, now.
    Cameron

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  52. None of us are designer perfect! We are just gardeners, giving back to the earth, enjoying the miracle of life, teaching what we know, experimenting, loving what we do!

    I could go on and on and on as the author of the article did on messy gardens, but gardeners don't have to talk, they just do!

    Eileen

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  53. Your garden looks beautiful to me. LOL! If our sad little homeowner's association had any teeth here (or if I was even a member), I'd be in trouble with my garden too.

    Personally, I wouldn't let a landscaper onto my property even if they offered to do it for free.

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  54. What a joy to read this post Jodi! Your garden photos are wonderful too ... I love the changing seasons. I wondered about that sweet red boat! You are so kindred to my feelings about weeds, chemicals and just loving one's garden. It is lovely to remember a friend by planting a tree. Take it easy! We have many gardening days ahead now. ;>) Carol

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  55. Good heavens, Jodi, what a dust-up! And to think, I missed it all. I guess I was too busy... gardening! (Finally!!!) And enjoying my gardens and the endless delights of spring discovery. Since I leave my gardens standing over winter to provide shelter for birds and overwintering beneficials (not to mention that my "cultivated wild meadow" provides a valuable winter windbreak for the chickens) and clean them up just as new growth begins, I'd be tossed out of any housing development in a heartbeat. But then, I'd never live in one, anyway. But my heart goes out to the vegetable gardener who apparently drew the ire of that blogger. As for your gardens, your delight in them and the creatures they attract is always a joy to read about and see, like peeking into a magical world. I, too, am sorry for your loss. The trees are a lovely memorial.

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  56. You have a beautiful garden Jodi. And if it gets a little untidy at this time of year, nature meant it to be that way :-)

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  57. I think that the beauty of your garden will be recognized and valued by every bird and bug that visits, and find food and refuge.

    Humans tend to over-complicate the simple things.

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  58. Ugly is in the eyes of the beholder.

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  59. Jodi, I've been gone for a week, so I missed the post that stirred up so much controversy...or perhaps it's a blogger I don't read. But your defense of your garden is so beautifully written, and I thank you for this positive philosophy. Last summer I planted a butterfly garden that could have been more aptly named my wild garden or one big mess, depending on your point of view. There was no color scheme, just a hodge-podge of all kinds of plants. But you know what--I got more enjoyment out of that little area than any other part of the garden! The grandkids loved watching for the hummingbirds that were attracted to it and the swallowtail caterpillars that climbed the fennel. I'm reminded of the story of the Little Red Hen--I dug the soil, I planted the seeds, I watered it, and I weeded it...so who cares what anyone else thinks!

    P.S. I think your garden is beautiful!

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  60. One good thing...the rant led me to your blog and garden. I love it and agree with all you said. I only started gardening, vegies and flowers, this last ten months and Im 53. Ill health and lack of finances keep me from doing all I see in my mind but I love it so much. It has opened a whole new wonderful world for me. Proud to have an ugly garden.

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  61. Doesn't look ugly to me! ;) Love it!

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  62. Controversy in gardening blog land, you've gotta love it! This was simply a wonderful post to read, and as someone who constantly wears rose-colored glasses when she wanders her own garden, I long ago stopped passing judgement on the gardens of others. Mine is often a weedy mess, and sometimes it isn't - and either way, I just think it's the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I also have some invasives and florida betony everywhere, and am fond of clover, like you - in fact, my goal is to let clover take over the 'lawn' part of my front yard. It just makes sense.

    Kudos.

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  63. Amen, Jodi! Sometimes I have an "ugly garden" too, and I would much rather have my own beautiful tangled mess than a neat little putting green or some cookie-cutter landscaping, McMansion-style. :)

    So sorry for the loss of your friend... but it sounds like you have a wonderful and fitting tribute ready for him. I hope you got those trees planted safely. :)

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  64. Well, being commentor #64 I am certainly behind the power curve. I have been out of the mainstream for a little while. I am sorry my readership fell off of your blog, I need to make sure it is on my reader.
    Not sure what the original posting said or who said it, but your rebuttal is welldone --- the very best phrase is pearlclutching vapours. what a riot.
    As in life or blogging or gardening, always stay true to yourself and you will be happy.

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  65. The week all of this was going on, I wasn't online much, because we were staying at our son's family's house while our kitchen was being remodeled. I am still behind in my blog reading.

    I love your place! As you know, I live out in the open on a corner lot. I grow several kinds of milkweed, joe pye weed, and other stuff for the bees and butterflies. I also let my parsley go to seed for the caterpillars. I was tickled last year when I saw some regular milkweed coming up in the bed by the curb. I hope they come back, as they didn't bloom.

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