I’ve been struggling with reducing the amount of Stuff I own. I have a small house, so my stuff is all the more pronounced. It’s not that I can’t let go of stuff; I can’t let go of the memories and meanings of my stuff. Dishes that I hate, that were my mother’s. An M&M dispenser, minus the M&Ms, that reminds me of a simpler time. Clothes bought for a special event.
I recently read an article on Unfancy about a Capsule wardrobe… “a 37 piece wardrobe that includes tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes.” Wouldn’t it be great to have a handful of mix and match clothes rather than a closet full of overwhelm and disappointment? Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.
While I’m decluttering my house, I can’t help but think about simplifying my garden. Every spring I think I have a handle on things and then it happens. They tell you it takes 3 years for perennials to take off: first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap. Right? Well, what they don’t tell you is that it only takes another 3 years for the whole lot of them to become totally out of control.
Okay. I’ve hit a tipping point. Last week I wrote a rant about not enjoying gardening any longer. Something has got to give and I’d rather it be my geraniums than my back. This is the year I downsize my garden. I’m ready. Where do I start?
Seriously, beginning is where I am flummoxed. It’s not as though my plants are arranged in an orderly fashion. If they were in nice, neat rows, I could pluck a few out, consolidate, and pat myself on the back. But, no. Going through my garden will be more like an archaeological dig. I find things I have no memory of planting. Sometimes I have no idea what they are. A weed, perhaps? Some fussy, obscure perennial I paid a month’s wages for, because some plant snob said it was exquisite and I wanted to be a plant snob too.
I have decided to start not with the plants, but with my own sense of overwhelm. My current garden was plant driven. Plants I wanted for whatever reason. Plants given to me and treasured more for the giver than the plant. Plants that called out to me, when I was at the nursery for something else entirely. I had to find space for all of them, design and concept were secondary. I suspect many gardens grow this way.
This time my starting point will be the feeling I want my garden to evoke; how I want it to present itself to me, to visitors, to pets, and even to wildlife. The plants will be a medium for creating that feeling. I don’t mean to diminish their importance. They will still be well-loved, appreciated, and at the very heart of the garden. They just won’t rule.
So what is this feeling I want to express with my new garden? Maybe I should start by asking “What need will my garden fill?” Not so easy to answer, at least for me. Beauty, certainly. I already went on about that in a prior post. I want to indulge my eyes in wonder and appreciation. Not chaos and overwhelm.
Sanctuary comes to mind, for both people and animals. Quiet and contemplative. Most gardens send my mind wondering, so this shouldn’t be too hard. The challenge will be to keep it simple and uncluttered.
I guess I want it to feel like home. True North. Like I can breathe out, put my feet up, put on my fat pants and relax. I also need to be clear how I want to use my garden.
I want to be able to tend and care for the plants, but I don’t want to think about all I have to do, every time I look out the window.
Entertaining, although my husband and several family members think the idea of sitting outside for prolonged periods in summer is beyond absurd. I’d like it to be accessible in 3 seasons, with some type of view in the 4th. Evergreens are useful, but I really think architecture and hardscaping are needed for this.
Food. Vegetable gardening was my first love. I always plant more than I can eat or put up and since I live in an area blessed with dozens of farms, farmers markets and farm stands, there’s a limit to what I can give away. It might be time I stopped battling groundhogs and rabbits and put a few large containers closer to the house. Just a few. I have my eye on some galvanized steel feed troughs that seem perfect.
I’d also like a reading room. I’d like to make the time to read all those books I’ve put off for some day. No more guilt about not being physically busy in the garden. I want to feel free to sit and read and mull things over.
Well, that’s a decent start.
What about you? Have you gone through this already? I would welcome any wisdom from someone who has already taken the plunge. Have you tried to wean yourself off this addiction in small steps. I love small steps, but I fear I need to make a clean break or risk complete failure. Did it work for you?
Is any of this resonating with you? Are you secretly longing to break up with your garden, but can’t bring yourself to say the words out loud. Then follow along with me this summer. Let me make the mistakes for you and we’ll both work up more resolve along the way. Right now, I have to go weed.