Serendipitous Gardening or How We Came to Accept a Wild Gardening Style

I devour garden books. I read them voraciously to learn how to plan a garden, what to plant where, how to design the space, all of that. I admire the well ordered designs, the borders made up of drifts of flowers that I see in those books. But somehow none of this takes.

The foxglove self seeded and the Humming birds love it.
The foxglove self seeded and the Humming birds love it.

Our garden always ends up being a sort of a wild tumultuous space. I used to apologize my way around the garden when company came over, for it’s messiness, it’s over-grown-ness, it’s haphazardness. Part of me wanted something much neater and organized, like those pretty gardens in the books.

But then, I don’t know when exactly, I started to appreciate the way plants just pop up where ever and to enjoy the delightful surprises. And most of all I came to accept our way of gardening. I’ve decided to call it Serendipitous Gardening.

Why is our garden as it is? I suppose it’s because we hate to pull anything out. If it looks ok, we leave it. And I can’t throw anything out either so if I have to divide plants I’ll just pop them in another spot or we’ll create a new bed to house them. Or it could be because the compost with the seeds of spent flowers gets spread all around in the spring and those seeds just get a chance to grow and have a change of view? Or is it because I can’t say no to some plant or other that I don’t need or even have room for that I find at a garage sale? When I get home the poor thing gets bunged into any available space just before it expires in the pot. Who knows? A bit of all of it I suppose.

The flox among the iris
The phlox among the iris

Sometimes being sort of laissez-faire about it all has it’s rewards. Plants that were seeded somewhere else re-seed themselves in unexpected places. Like the phlox that grew up in and around the iris bed. How did they know they would set off the irises so well?

A bit of the serendipitous garden
A bit of the serendipitous garden

Or the bluebells and rose campion that pop up around the orange day lilies creating just the right mix of complementary color.

The mallow can stay, for now.
The mallow can stay, for now.

Or the mallow that I left in with the squash plants just to give the veggie garden a bit of color. As artists, I suppose, we have come to appreciate and delight in the serendipitous results.


3 thoughts on “Serendipitous Gardening or How We Came to Accept a Wild Gardening Style

  1. mary-lou says:

    Have always loved your garden, it’s so everything you said it was… but it’s also an oasis, a sanctuary, and a place of calm and colour, quite wonderful. And yes, we still have room a’ plenty for those burnt orange day lilies you mentioned, and anything else you may want a home for…

  2. Kay Harris says:

    Thank you for this information. I am looking for other sources for “serendipitous gardening”, as this is the topic for my Master Gardening Class in Orlando (Orange County). This is due on Tuesday, October6, 2009. If you have any suggestions, please E-Mail me. Thanks in advance for anything you might find.

  3. Helen says:

    Hi Kay, thanks for your comment. My Serendipitous garden came about all by itself, just as I said in the blog. I’m sorry I don’t have any other sources for this type of garden to direct you to. You may have to search other things like free form, or wild or cottage style. Wish you the best on your class. Sounds like fun. I’ll pass along your email to anyone with some ideas for you.

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