The Wild Garden

Garden from yard

A view of my garden from the yard

Despite my intentions to make this year’s garden an orderly piece of living art–or at least almost as neat as my Amish neighbors’ gardens–the plants had other ideas.

I’d laid the garden out to be pleasingly symmetrical, with corn hills at each corner and a row of broccoli along the front, but I couldn’t resist the sunflowers that insisted on popping up virtually everywhere but where I’d planted them. Weeding them seemed like sacrilege, so they stayed. As did the mustard plants that sprang up and are now cheerfully waving their little yellow flowers. As did the beans, artemisia, rogue broccoli plants, and dill that also planted themselves.

View from chicken pen

A garden with a mind of its own

So despite my best intentions, my garden is a wild mass of growth, although I prefer to think of it as “exuberant.”

In my defense, there are a few angles where I can capture some of my original intention of distinct planting hills with a nice layer of mulch between them.


A rare and precious view of mulch

But I have to work a little too hard to get those views. And this, mind you, is the planned part of my garden. One end is a savage Darwinian struggle between a mass of muscular plants, the kind that fend for themselves with no interference on my part: comfrey, Jerusalem artichoke, valerian, lovage, and wild geranium, to name just a few.

I lovingly refer to this part of my garden as the “wildlife refuge,” and although it would probably horrify professional gardeners and landscapers, I’m quite fond of its lush textures and eternal surprises.

Aronia bush

The wildlife refuge

Thoreau said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Since my wildlife refuge requires virtually no care on my part, I would add, “In wildness is the preservation of my sanity.”




  1. I like a garden that’s messy with lush growth.

  2. It’s probably better to have an exuberant garden than an orderly one, if you have to choose between the two. Cheers to a wildlife refuge!

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