We've long been admirers of Don Engebretson, the Renegade Gardener. We love his funny and spot-on yearly awards so much, we recommend them again and again and again. He's given this blog and especially the Manifesto a shout-out or two and we've become a mutual admiration society among ranters. But now he's having second thoughts.
The fine and feisty women over at GardenRant.com have a manifesto on their home page that includes the statements, “In love with real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden gardens,” and another, “Bored with perfect magazine gardens.” When I first started visiting the site and read the manifesto I thought yeah, right on—rambling, dirty gardens are what most turn out to be, chaos is the norm, perfect magazine gardens are unachievable. I’m easy…
I now find it paradoxical that the first statement in the GardenRant manifesto is, “We are convinced that gardening matters.” You’re damn right it does. And if gardening matters, what matters most, is gardening well.
Accompanying this declaration is the photo above with the caption: "One of mine, I’m proud of it, and I can do better."
Now might be a good time to confess – I don't exactly live by that part of the Manifesto, either. I DO love gardens that are real, dirty (what else?), and bug-ridden (especially pollinator-ridden). And rambling is fine in a large space. But chaos? That's what gardeners work their butts off to fight off, right? We bring order to what would otherwise be a big unruly mess.
Here's what I mean. I may have gotten rid of all my turfgrass but I didn't exactly replace it with a tall-grass meadow. Lord no. This 3" tall mosaic of groundcovers criss-crossed with brick pavers is about as much chaos as I ever want to see in my little patch of heaven. And even as I post this photo my eye goes right to the messy edge around what's supposed to be a perfect oval shape, and I want to fix it.
And am I really bored with perfect magazine gardens? Actually, I'm more bored by the how-to articles than by the gardens. Great, imaginative gardens – well photographed – I could look at all day, especially in winter.
So where do YOU stand on "real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden" versus "perfect magazine" gardens?