The first step in crafting the life you want, is to get rid of everything you don’t. –Joshua Becker
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it. Okay, if I want to create the garden I want, perhaps the way there is to get rid of everything I don’t want.
I’m viewing my quest as a Minimalist’s Garden. That doesn’t mean I want a stripped down version of my old garden. God, no. Whenever I’m tempted to just rip it all out and push the plants to the curb with a “Free to good home” sign, I remind myself that I still want beauty and abundance… just less omnipresent maintenance. I want to peacefully coexist with my garden. (I know I’m not alone.)
So, time to focus on what I don’t want.
I think the first thing to get rid of is the clutter of plants gone wild. It seemed to take so long for my plants to initially fill in. I let them stretch out and luxuriate. Big mistake. I now have too many plants (yes, that is possible) and too much variety. Even a casual cottage garden looks better with a bit of editing. It’s time to weed out the plants.
I could easily rattle off a list of plants that give me way too much grief. Crocosmia, nigella, poppies, phlox, lilies… Yes, these are all either temperamental in my garden or a calling card for rabbits and groundhogs. Sometimes both. Can I part with them? Would I notice they were gone, since I don’t always get to see them bloom anyway?
The decision of which plants to edit from the garden is more an emotional and sentimental one, than pragmatic. Still, I must show some resolve or I will never make any progress. It’s not about sacrifice, it’s about enough.
My first step will be walking through my garden and looking for struggling plants and solo players – plants that are the last of their kind to survive in my garden. Sorry guys, but it’s time you found accommodations elsewhere. Nothing personal, we just don’t seem to want the same things.
These Can Definitely Go:
Amsonia – Love these flowers, but the bloom time is short and they get large and take up a lot of space. Amsonia hubrichtii does have nice fall color and I really do like this White Flower Farm Selection, but maybe I could enjoy it in someone else’s garden.
Coreopsis – The species is dependable, but it spreads too quickly and I find the golden-yellow jarring. The threadleaf varieties might as well be annuals, in my garden. I’ll have no problem parting with these, if they don’t leave on their own.
Blackberry Lily – This plant has always fascinated me, but not enough bang for the buck. It seems I always have only 1 plant and always somewhere in the garden other than where I planted it.
Geraniums – Except for the incomparable ‘Rozanne’, which is always welcome in my garden, perennial geraniums look great in spring, but decline throughout the summer, even when cut back. Although somehow, they’re always larger and take up more space the following year. Enough!
Lady’s Mantle – I admit, I read too many British gardening books, when I planted these. Maybe they do better in the misty English countryside, but the chartreuse flowers are not that appealing and the plants just flop in my garden. I don’t think they are particularly happy here and they don’t add anything – except the entertaining way they roll water droplets around.
Mallow – Meh. Looks good for 10 minutes
Monada – I have to admit, this plant has improved immensely in the past decade or two. They no longer look bedraggled by July, when they were covered in mildew. I have a few purple and deep ruby plants that are thriving, but I think the romance is gone. Time to move on.
Nigella – I adore this plant. Yes, it’s an annual, but it used to reseed. Not anymore. I try every year, but it stays wispy and forlorn, in my garden. Plus, it’s getting harder and harder to find seed of just the deep blue variety. They always toss in mostly white and pale blue, which are poor relations, as far as I’m concerned.
Phlox – As with Monarda, this plant’s proclivity toward powdery mildew is greatly improved. I remember buying ‘David’ and being so disappointed because, despite the fanfare, it was still covered in the stuff. I’ve tried several others that fared better, but at this point, I have two pink phlox left and one somehow found its way into the vegetable garden. Every spring I say I must transplant it, but it’s been there for 3 or 4 years now. I think it’s time to go.
Poppies – Love them in bloom. Bleh otherwise. True, the plants eventually go dormant and disappear, but as with daffodils, the downtime is longer than the initial show.
Sedum (except ‘Autumn Joy’) – Some are nice, and they do grow well for me, but if I’m going to clump them, I would still go with the always reliable Autumn Joy. I’ve had ‘Autumn Joy’ plants, since a few centuries ago, when I was in grade school.
I’m Still on the Fence, with These:
Brunnera – I have some very pretty varieties, but they never seem to expand. They are lovely in early spring, then the leaves get, and stay, spotty. Maybe they just need more shade.
Iris – Lovely, but oh so brief. They spread quickly, hogging precious space all season, and they need division often. But…
Salvia – I want to like salvias. I have ‘Caradonna’ and they are truly reliable, but the flowers are ugly as they fade and I’ve just never been fond of their leaves.
Well, that’s a start. Now where do I find enough large pots to put these plants, until the fall plant swap? It always comes down to pots, doesn’t it.
This is not a blanket judgement of these plants. They may do wonderfully in your garden, but they are not happy in mine. It’s tough love time.