Not all gardens need to be manicured spaces, with raked beds, crisp borders and tiered levels of ordered plants. Not every plant, bird and butterfly needs to be in its place, at the right time and in the right moment. Instead, let go of wanting to achieve the “perfect” garden and welcome a little more uncertainty. In doing so you may get to witness, celebrate and be a part of the natural ebb and flow of the wild world around us in a way you might not with a perfect garden.
The following strategies may help you end your quest for perfection in the garden while also helping you embrace a little bit of healthy, wild instability outdoors.
1. Don’t worry about even spacing. How often, when walking in a forest or meadow, do you see plants that are all spaced 12 to 24 inches apart? While you may need to evenly space plants like sedges that form the ground layer in a matrix planting for quick, even coverage, you don’t have to follow the same rules for upper-layer plants like flowers and even shrubs.
Let plants touch and bump into one another, without worrying about perfectly spacing them. By mimicking the staggered spacing we see in wild landscapes, we bring a bit more of nature home while still cultivating a garden that’s organized and pleasing to our senses.
2. Plan for plants to move around. Use plants’ natural tendencies to spread to your advantage, rather than trying to manage them like you’re maintaining a static sculpture.
Use plants that moderately self-sow, especially if you’ve got a larger area, or plan for self-sowing with biennial plants like black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) or some native thistles…