Monday, 10 February 2014

'The Untidy Gardener'


'The Untidy Gardener' is not only the title of one of the gardening books on my bookshelves but could just as well be applied to me. This tendency sometimes has drawbacks but sometimes bring unexpected pleasures.

As yet another rainy day rules out attempting any jobs in the garden, I waited for a clear break in the skies and briefly squelched round the estate earlier this afternoon. The area behind and at the side of the greenhouse is a bit of a dumping ground and is in need of a blitz to make it more respectable. I spotted a hellebore seedling growing out of the slate chippings there either two or three years ago. I debated pulling it out as I already had other hellebore seedlings vying for my attention. I debated potting it up. I debated whether to just leave it where it was to see how it would get on and that is what happened. This hellebore was winking at me when I came across it today - not perhaps a star amongst hellebores but still much appreciated.


'The Untidy Gardener' by Elizabeth Cragoe was published in 1984 and although the book is no longer in print it is still possible to find second hand copies. The author is faced with tackling three and a half acres of overgrown land surrounding the house as she creates her garden in west Wales. Apart from a garden plan at the front the rest of the book is without drawings or photos but the words are sufficient. The author's main interest is in growing wild flowers and she writes "I want the garden, ideally, to develop in such a way that it does not demand too much in the way of actual gardening. As I get older , I trust that the trees and shrubs that I am planting now will, in growing up to maturity, take over a good part of the decorating of the garden, and that the wild flowers , whose cultural requirements, once understood, are simple, will do the rest  ... It is partly because of my predominating interest in growing wild flowers that I have called this book 'The Untidy Gardener' ; but, really, another word is needed , a word that implies not so much the opposite of tidiness, as its irrelevance - 'a-tidy' rather than untidy. Wild flowers want to grow very freely, but, in their heyday anyway, they are seldom messy".

What about you - would you have pulled that seedling out or allowed it to grow on?

36 comments:

  1. The seedling would have certainly been left to do its thing. I'm definitely an untidy gardener, there's weeds in my gravel which I've meant to pull out that I still see every time I pass, never mind hellebores.

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    1. I'm the same too Jo when it comes to weeds but usually spring into action when I see them start to flower :)

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  2. I'm not so considerate when I find seedlings! My excuse....I've a couple of neighbours who grow willowherb and nettles for fun and a recurring nightmare of owning a garden over run by them sends me running straight for the hoe. Does it matter that it may not be the most beautiful Hellebore that you've ever seen - providing it's healthy enough and flowering that's all that counts in my book Anna.

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    1. Oh what a shame that your neighbours are not more considerate Angie although at least nettles are great for wildlife and you can eat them :)

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  3. I would have definitely left it there.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Susan and welcome :)

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  4. I would definitely have left the seedling in place. I love how plants just put themselves into the places where they feel happy. If they get too big, or outstay their welcome then I dig them up. I'm definitely not a tidy gardener but I have lots of wildlife that really appreciates that!

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    1. Yes it's amazing Su how plants can find a suitable des res without the aid of an estate agent or in this case a gardener.

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  5. I would leave it too. I would say I'm a fairly tidy gardener as my plot is small and everything is on show. I probably would have left the seedling, but with a watchful eye!

    It's a pretty little hellebore Anna and in this wet and dreary weather, a welcome sight.

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    1. Glad to have another vote for the laissez faire camp Jeanne. It's certainly a pretty little thing but I may have to move it to another home before it gets much bigger or I will be tripping over it!

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  6. So many new plants and strains have been discovered thanks to untidy gardeners who never did weed that seedling....

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    1. All too true guys although I don't think this one will end up being widely distributed but maybe the next or the one after that ? :)

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  7. Nature knows what she is doing. It's lovely.

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    1. Nature certainly knows best Jessica. Thanks for your comment.

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  8. I would not have pulled it out! It's delightful, such anarchy ;). Yet another book that sounds tempting, I will look into it. Do you know Mirabel Osler? You'd love her writing, I think.

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    1. I like a bit of anarchy Annette. I've read and thoroughly enjoyed Mirabel Osler's 'A Gentle Plea For Chaos' and a couple of her other books but many thanks for the suggestion :)

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  9. The book sounds like it would appeal to me Anna. I would have left the Hellebore on the pathway too if I didn't have to consider my partner's desire for tidiness... LOL! My verbena bonariensis, nigella and violets always seem to want to seed themselves in the most inappropriate places, but hellebores struggle a bit here.

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    1. I think that you would enjoy the book Cathy. We have issues here not about tidiness but about car parking space - he wants it where I want to plant :)

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  10. I would certainly have left it where it was. I find nature knows just where to put any spare seed, usually the last place I would think of putting them. I have so many primroses, cowslips, bluebells, cyclamen and foxgloves thanks to nature spreading them around.

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    1. Glad to see another vote for live and let live Pauline. Self seeders are indeed a fabulous bonus as long as they are not weeds.

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  11. Funnily enough I had (sorry, have) a hellebore exactly that colour that appeared under a fern - probably not a chance seedling though but one that came to me as a tiny baby and got forgotten about. I moved her last week to a place where she will be more easily seen - there is something so simple and unassuming about her plainness, isn't there? I have a couple of hellebores that have just started seeding themselves about but I dug most of them up and gave them to two nieces who are just getting going with their own gardens - don't think I could compost them....

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    1. No composting would be too dire a fate Cathy wouldn't it? It's great to have family and friends to pass any sort of seedlings on to and some of mine end up at our garden club plant sale.

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  12. I love it when plants put themselves somewhere that I would never have thought of. That book sounds like my sort of book, I will look out for it. I hate tidy, manicured gardens. I have hellebores coming up everywhere, violets and primroses too and I let them grow where they want..

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    1. It's so exciting when plants do that Chloris and come up in the most unexpected places.Thanks for your comment :)

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  13. I pulled up lots of hellebore seedlings the other day. I just did it having procrastinated for ages they were so tightly packed together and around the parent plant. Now I have introduced some more hellebores I think the future seedlings might be more interesting

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    1. Would do the same in that instance Helen and then pot them up to see what transpires when they eventually flower. It's fun waiting to see :) This hellebore seedling was completely isolated though so did not interfere with any others.

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  14. What a beautiful piece of happenstance, would that all my "untidy gardener" habits had such pretty outcomes. That sounds like a lovely book, and a lovely way to garden. I suspec it takes a considerable amount of plant knowledge to pull it off successfully. I think I would miss having pictures though.

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    1. Most of my many 'untidy gardener moments' are less attractive to the eye Janet. I'm sure that your imagination is more than vivid enough to make up for the lack of any pictures :)

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  15. I would probably have potted it up but that's because in my garden it wouldn't survive the summer drought if not planted where there was irrigation. the concept of the book is very much what a lot of people are doing now - interesting.

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    1. Did not realise that you have to irrigate Christina but should have done :) My hellebore is an fairly dry spot I think with not much soil underneath but in a shady place with an abundant rainfall. With reference to the concept of the book it's a bit like fashion - nothing is new.

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  16. I'd have left it. I love the title of that book. It's odd because in the house everything has its place. I have lived in some VERY small places and the only way to survive was by being tidy. But in the garden I am much more relaxed. I love plants which self-seed. I don't particularly like a weedy garden but other than that I like a space that doesn't need too much tending. This frees up time for the allotment. :)

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    1. It's a brilliant title isn't it WW? I'm all too familiar with that issue of how to split up the time between garden and allotment and like your philosophy :)

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  17. I probably would have dug it up and transplanted it, but only because I don't have that many hellebores. But I have left other plants alone growing in strange places--oftentimes the prettiest hollyhock I have is growing in the compost pile! Love the title of this book--it's an appropriate description of me:)

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    1. Another kindred soul then Rose :) It's funny how that the plants that get on and do their own thing often do better than the ones that we mollycoddle - maybe a salutary reminder to us that they know best.

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  18. I am a great one for leaving things - a decision I sometimes have cause to regret. The book and the passage you quote sounds very much like the way I garden.

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  19. Another candidate for 'The Untidy Gardener Club' then Elaine. Thanks for your comment :)

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All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at : thegreentapestry@gmail.com

Namasté

- Anna.