Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Eclectic Gardening 101

Eclectic design? What the heck is that? I'm glad you asked. There is no plan past the path versus the planting spaces. Bush pilot design. Gardening on the edge. Growing by the skin of your teeth. Scientific plotting ... where one just buys whatever they please and plops it down where it seems to want to go. If you don't fill that naked space each plant will soon grow to fill with annuals you will over plant your beds!

How do I know this? Because I have a huge amount of experience in this method of creating a garden. I doubt that I created it but I am an expert. To test your level of expertise ... answer the following questions:

1) Did you measure the amount of space you have completely vacant before you went off to the garden center to buy more plants?

2) Did you measure the space and check the available room against the information on the tag before settling the wee bugger in that new hole?

3) Do you find yourself having to bend over and pick up branches of larger plants to peek at the ones hidden from view under there?

4) Have you in early summer found a surprise tuberous Begonia or Dahlia suddenly appear out of thin air that wasn't there last fall?

5) Do you know there are plants in there somewhere and have just up and disappeared?

*** Score yourself 2 points for every correctly answered question. 1) No. 2) No. 3) Yes. 4) Yes. 5) Yes.

How Do YOU Rank?
  • 10 points : You are and Expert Eclectic Garden Designer and abhor planning.
  • 6-8 points: You are getting close, time to brush up on ignoring rules better.
  • 4 points: You just like to have a little fun once in a while but prefer following rules.
  • 0-2points: You are too organized to become an Eclectic Designer and crave rules.

When a garden is new there is lots of space to tuck in annual flowers. They make great filler so you aren't looking at a bunch of immature green things that will give you a couple of blooms. When it starts there is just way too much vacant space in a perennial garden. So to get that pizzazz - that gee that's gorgeous result it is best to add color with Alyssum, Begonias and other season long bloomers.

Over the course of the next three years the space for annuals will get smaller and smaller. If you don't plan for a few areas to keep space for annuals you will wind up with a lot of green space unless your garden area is pretty large and in one area. Look what happens to the eclectic garden designer over the span of 8 years.

Yes that is the very same corner. The photo was taken from a different angle, but look at it ... its a jungle! A lovely jungle but there isn't a spot anywhere for a begonia in there. The path is half covered up with hostages too. (Hostages - hostas they're all one in the same.) I tore up all those huge hostas and split them to stop the over crowding. Evidently, this is the perfect place for hostas to live because within 2 more years they were out of control again. I gave them all away because they were just far too happy for me!

Seriously though, even though I crave a brilliant cacophony of color, this corner was so soothing and peaceful it grew on me. The scene reminded me of a Victorian wedding all dark green with some pinstriped trousers and frothy white lace for a head piece. It didn't help any that after inadvertantly watering that tree for years on end it took off and grew like it was on steroids. There wasn't a lot of sun in this corner anymore.

The loss of sun actually was a blessing on a hot summer day. This spot was 10 to 15 degrees cooler than anywhere else in the yard. It made the perfect outdoor studio for doing landscape designs. I mean just look at the wallpaper, its totally unique and so realistic too. The windows never get foggy or smeared up and there are no walls to make you feel hemmed in. Of course it a storm blew in things would get a bit frantic saving that paper from damage. Better than a fire alarm and you are stuck in a big building far from the fire escape though. Nope, that door to dryness was about 20 feet from the table.

Go Eclectic ... it is far more interesting and exciting than any scaled plan could ever turn out. A garden created by impulse will be so much more passionate than one where you follow all those rules. Rules were made to be broken. I mean really, why sweat it so much? Unless it is a tree or an unforgiving shrub, plants are perfectly mobile after all. Just run with it and see what happens.


Randy and Jamie said...

Well according to my test scores I am and expert! I try to stick to a plan but it just can't happen that way when you find a must have in a store some where. I'm happy have found you blog and look forward to the reading. Phillip, from Dirt Therapy told me to pay you a visit. I'll have to thank him for that. :-)

G.G. said...

I knew there were many more of us out there somewhere. It is just too much fun to stick a plan. Plans are work for me, a lengthy and complicated task.