Full disclosure


Uh oh. After two years of carefully-cropped photos and blithe descriptions of my favorite rare lilies and annuals, some of the people who have been reading Gardening While Intoxicated and this blog will actually see my garden. The reality. Not many, it’s true, but three of them are my fellow ranters and there are maybe six-eight other bloggers and lurkers. Yikes. I’m not worthy! So, to help prepare them, I offer:

The five ugliest spots in my garden.

(It could have been 10 or even 20, but that would be too depressing.)


#5 The hellstrip
Now, for many, this would be #1, but these areas are supposed to be ugly, so I don’t feel too bad about it. In its defense, I would mention that there are three Norway maples and their accompanying root systems in this little spot. The city owns the trees, so I’m hesitant to take any down, plus trees are good and all that.


#4 The big ugly rosebush
Why can’t I pull this out? It does bloom all the time—you can probably see buds on it now—but the flowers last about 20 minutes and the tall canes are blocking some truly attractive clematis, lilies, roses, and climbing petunia, mingling on the trellie behind it (or they were—what happened?).


#3 The unproductive rhodies
These were supposed to be better and hardier than the others. Well, they suck. I had six blooms in early summer. Major—and costly—replacement issues here, though. The other problem is that they, like much of the garden, have to assert themselves against the omnipresent red brick backdrop (the material of the two Victorians that pertain here).


#2 I don’t even know what to call this There is a big birdseye maple (well-behaved for its species), a couple lilies, Canadian anemone, porcelain vine, and—whatever. The faded pink flamingo (which my husband will not have removed) is not helping.


#1 Weeds galore
Don’t mistake, I have weeds throughout my garden, but most are well-hidden or mitigated by their surroundings. Here, however, in a spot behind the garage that never gets watered, weeded, or (one hopes) looked at, weeds take center stage. A couple lilies and a rose bush have survived over the years.

Again, this is a selective list. And I know that these images aren’t really all that hideous, but nor are they orderly flower beds. I am sure that when Susan, Michele, and Amy visit, they can expand on this. Not to my face, probably. Though—Susan is a coach. Maybe there’s some kind of tough love policy. The drinks will need to flow.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Nobody’s garden is ever perfect, unless they have loads of hired help–and in that case, it’s a good bet that the garden looks stiff and impersonal.

    I always take comfort in the fact that my garden, however messy and imperfect it may be at any given moment, looks a hell of a lot more loved and cared for than the house.

  2. Oh, goody – there will be weeds to pull! Coz I’m hard-pressed to spend a whole weekend without doing some gardening, ya know. Even a bit of coaching, but only if asked. See ya tomorrow!! S

  3. I so relate to the rose and rhododendrons. My garden is scattered with under performers. Each spring when it would be easy to replace them without messing up the rest of the garden, I go soft and think ‘this will be the year you finally perform’. Of course the never do.

  4. Brave post, Elizabeth, and entertaining! We all have those “uglies” in our gardens that we edit out in our blog photos. I can see why you’ve got the heebie-jeebies about the fact that your friends and readers will soon be seeing them. But no one will be selecting them with the frame of the camera or homing in on them with an owner’s eye the way you just did. The good parts are what people will notice and remember. Have a great time!

  5. Elizabeth’s got a pink flamingo! Elizabeth’s got a pink flamingo! I can’t WAIT to tell the rest of the Garden Walk gardeners!

    Everyone’s got ugly spots in their gardens. but only a select few have plastic flamingos.

  6. Elizabeth, your “worst of” pictures look quite a bit like some of my “best of” pictures. Ouch. Have a great time.

  7. I once brought an Important and Educated Gardener to my house and she took one look around at my messy, overgrown, mismatched, never-quite-weeded garden and said, “Oh! A real gardener lives here.” I wish my garden was more spiffed up, but nothing else in my life is, so why should the garden go first?

  8. I’d be too busy looking at those lilies [and trying to catch the fragrance] to notice any of the 5 so-called ugly spots.

    I hope you all have a wonderful time.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  9. Yeah, what Michele said! I just took a walk in the garden with a friend and all I could see were the weeds. Thankfully, she was looking at the flowers! Have a great time. Any mint. Mojitos are pretty good while garden touring.

  10. I am really looking forward to Garden Walk and seeing lots of real gardens. Some of the things you see as problems the rest of us won’t. As for a weed or two – (or in my case an acre full) I tell everyone mine are butterfly plants. 🙂

  11. I was thinking just the other day that what you call ‘full disclosure’ would make a great meme. It was while I was mowing down and piling grass clippings on some spots that had just gotten way out of control. I’m going to have to go make some ugly shots this weekend. Have fun with the walk. Sorry I’m not going to be able to make it. Take lots of pix.

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