I’ve spent years trying to meet the standards set by my Amish neighbors’ gardens, so orderly and immaculate. I would start the year with excellent intentions, envisioning an equally orderly garden that would seem like a verdant quilt when I looked down on it from our deck.
Each year I tried, and each year I failed, especially since I couldn’t bear to uproot the hardy little volunteers that would report for duty: dill, kale, sunflowers, red orach, sweet annie, mustard (LOTS of mustard) and tomatoes that were inevitably healthier than the ones I’d been coddling under grow lights for the past several weeks. The four foot by four foot garden beds would inevitably stretch and warp to accommodate the visitors, and the neat straw-mulched paths between them would end up on top of my seedlings after Minerva, the chicken escape artist, would devise yet another way to jump out of her pen and go exploring.
“It’s not a garden; it’s a wildlife refuge,” I would explain apologetically to guests.
Now, though, I’ve finally come to accept my garden as it is: chaotic, messy, and wild. The Amish gardens weren’t nearly as lush and magical as mine was one misty morning last week, and I couldn’t resist taking these pictures.
Now, if someone happens to see my garden, I’ll explain proudly that it’s not a garden, it’s a wildlife refuge.