That Laid-Back Feeling

Like posts on this blog recently, I’ve been a little absent in the garden. There’s been some nice weather in which we did finally manage to make a start on levelling out the patio and fixing the loose slabs. I’ve also done some odd jobs here and there but whether it’s my age or the fact that I’m starting to fatigue close to the finish line, I haven’t had a strong drive to go out and be continually spending time in the garden doing something.

The original beautiful brick patio

Having said that I spent most of the day outside recently playing catch-up. The state of the garden currently reflects this laissez-faire, hands-off attitude that I’ve had over the last several weeks. Shrubs are cutting off paths, the delphiniums of the Crescent are drunk and wayward, even the roses look are though they’re lolling on the arches and might just fall off if the wind decides to change direction.

A rustically re-levelled section of the patio

There’s a lot of exuberant growth from the two borders at the back of the garden – the Willow border and the Landing Pad – but the nature of the planting: mixed shrubs, perennials and annuals, with lots of random things that have self-seeded – gives even these borders a loose and informal, “thrown together” sort of look.

“Just grow into anywhere there’s room”

I actually quite like it. It’s exactly the kind of romantic style that I love. It’s the feeling that you’ve stepped into a garden but it’s not the gardener that’s in control, it’s not manicured to perfection. Things have gone a little crazy, everything is jostling together, trying to out-grow, out-reach, out flower everything else. You’re not quite sure if the garden has been abandoned recently and plants have been left to fend for themselves.

Relaxed delphiniums

I don’t particularly care that the delphiniums are either toppled over, leaning drunk or snapped part-way, they’re still all in flower and covered with bees, looking splendid. I don’t care that the clematis is overwhelming one of the fruit trees – the birds always got to the cherries first anyway. I don’t care that the blue-flag iris, the red-hot pokers, astrantia and many, many more plants have strewn themselves over the grass paths, making it more of an obstacle course to walk through. It’s the romantic look and more importantly, the atmosphere that I want to have with the garden. It might even be the equivalent of “shabby chique”.

The urn is still a bit too bright and clean

All this “not caring” doesn’t mean that I don’t care to garden, it means that I can’t care to garden so meticulously at this time of year and am just happy to let things get on with what ever they want to get up to. I’ll intervene if I have to, but only if I really have to.

Front of the Landing Pad, gradually growing outwards into the Rectangle

Despite this laid-back feeling, there is still work on the patio that needs completing and a large border to dig over and plant. These are the two final large projects in the garden and I’m finding it quite difficult at the moment to get motivated on either. While I definitely do want to get these jobs done, my attitude is perfectly reflected by the weather’s attitude to summer: there might be some effort shown with a few hot days, then it’s back to dull and wet.

The romantic style

It’s going to be dull and wet, which is actually fine with me because I don’t feel like doing much outside tomorrow anyway. I did a whole load today and I think that’s enough for a bit, just until I get some energy and motivation back. In the meantime, the plants can do what plants do, just grow and flower and for a few days, the antics of the bees, birds and insects will be all the activity the garden will see.

And I’m fine with that.

6 Comments


  1. Drunk or not, I love those Delphiniums! They do not grow well here. It’s good to take a break from the garden now and then, especially after the very busy times in spring.

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Jason, I guess the winters are too cold for delphiniums where you are. The weather has been playing havoc with planning the larger jobs and now I’m sat here bracing for a predicted heatwave in which I’ll be having to mix concrete and barrow tons of compost and manure. It’s not turnout out to be an easy year!

      Reply

  2. It’s just so interesting…each gardeners relationship with the land he/she claims as theirs. How we work, how we plan, how we observe, and in the end, Nature has the last word. I like the way Nature is performing beautifully in your space as you step back for a moment.

    Reply

    1. Thank you, Jayne, I’m more of the feeling of being a temporary custodian of the small area we happen to own for the time being. While I do have strong say in what grows where and what the garden ultimately looks like (within reason), I think the least stressful way of going about it is to have a loose hand, a light touch and “listen” to what the plants, borders and general garden eco-system are “staying” as a guide for how to develop the garden.

      Reply

  3. I love that lush, romantic look. It reminds me of the philosophy of gardening I heard Bill Cullina express in a class I took with him when he was Director of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens: Design the garden, plant it, sit back for a couple of years to see what mother nature does with it, then edit.

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Jean, I think I’ve unknowingly been following that philosophy without realising it. After several years, there are some parts of various borders that are not doing so well and which I am not happy about, so I’m planning to completely do those over, then leave them to grow and see how they develop. I’m also more confident at moving plants about, even if it’s a few feet. Eventually I hope I can move from large-scale border changes to just tweaks and maintenance here and there.

      Reply

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