Guess what? Your garden does not need to be perfectly manicured with razor-sharp edges and layers of cascading, color-coordinated blooms. Sometimes, when you simply let Mother Nature do her thing, you’ll get waves of lovely surprises all season long. We asked Master Gardener Jan Bills, owner of Two Women and a Hoe, a boutique landscape garden company in Southeast Michigan for some tips. Her book, Late Bloomer: How to Garden With Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life shows gardeners of all levels how to ease up on all the pressure of perfection and instead embrace the garden that represents who you really are.
“When I’m presenting to audiences about how to garden, I always start with design principles, such as putting the right plant in the right place, so we have less labor and more love for our gardens,” says Bills. “Gardening shouldn’t be all about the work. My book is about that shift in perspective.”
1. Forget about even spacing
“We have an aversion to plants touching. So often, clients call me to their homes, and say, ‘My gardens are overgrown.’ And I say, no, your gardens are lush, and here’s why lush is lovely: When we fill our garden beds up with the right plant in the right place, including ground cover, what we don’t have is all that mulching to do every year,” says Bills.
“By doing this, we reduce our weeds and our water usage. It’s okay if plants touch! If two plants are impeding on one another, preventing one or the other from not getting the air, water and light they need, that’s overgrown. You’ll know when a plant can’t grow when half is dead and half is growing.”
2. If plants want to spread out or go to seed, let them!
One of the best things about perennials is how quickly they grow and spread – that means less bucks being spent at the nursery to fill those flowerbeds! Many plants that self-sow, such as black-eyed Susan, are gorgeous when allowed to reproduce. Just be careful not to plant really invasive varieties that could choke out your garden.
3. Work smarter, not harder.
“If you set those gardens up right, you’ll find me in my garden, walking through it with my favorite cocktail in one hand, and I’m just strolling through it, picking a weed here or there,” says Bills.
“People are so relieved when I tell them we don’t have to use chemicals. It’s okay if you have some weeds in your garden. It’s not the end of the world. There are ways you can organically take care of that. That’s my relaxing point of view: it’s okay if it’s not perfect.”
4. Make your garden all about you.
“I’m very much into permeable surfaces, and keeping storm water runoff on my property, so that water doesn’t go down that storm drain with all the pollutants that end up in our lakes and our rivers,” says Bills.
“I think my urban garden really reflects who I am. I grow easy, beautiful evergreens, ornamental flowering shrubs and hydrangeas. I’m not real big on annuals, because they require a lot of resources and a lot of work. Nothing’s perfect, and imperfect is beautifully perfect.”
What do you love about your imperfect garden? Share your photos with us!
Photo: Courtesy of Pexels.com