Encouragement for New Gardeners: No Garden is Perfect

Colleen at In the Garden Online suggested that we should encourage new gardeners by showing them the ugly parts of our gardens.

You know, the parts we carefully edit out of our pictures before posting them on line, or just avoid posting pictures of entirely.

She surmised that new gardeners would be encouraged to know that no gardener, regardless of their experience, hardwork, money or dumb luck has a perfect garden.

And if someone does have perfect garden, they probably do have a lot of money and a lot of help and I'd bet they aren't doing most of the gardening themselves.

For most gardeners, it is about the gardening and we all end up with parts of the garden that please us and surprise us in a good way and make us happy. But there's always a few places...

Let me share some of mine.

Pictured above is what remains of one of my new 'Praying Hands' hostas. While I have blamed the rabbits, I realize this could also be the work of chipmunks. I'm putting cayenne pepper on the other new hostas. I'm leaving this one here because it still has one little leaf, so it will likely recover from this attack.

Here is my overgrown mess of forsythia that rarely bloom that need to go, go, go out of the garden.Look at the grass growing up through the shrubs! It's slovenly at best. I just haven't gotten up the energy to take care of this, but I still hope and plan to get it all torn out by fall so I can plant something else at the entrance to my vegetable garden before the snow flies.

Oh, and my heavens the plants on the garage side of my house are the worst they've ever been.
I just today gave them some extra water. This area is going to need some serious attention this fall to get it back in shape, and last year I thought it looked pretty decent. Not great, but decent. I guess it is time to clean up the hodge podge of plants I put there ten years ago and plant something with a bit more of a plan. Even my youngest sister commented on it the other day when she came by. She didn't say "this area looks terrible", she just made a comment about me not getting over to that side of the house much or something like that.

Actually, I think seeing this mess did make her feel a bit better about her own gardens. She's had her struggles with weeds and invasive perennials out of control, but her gardens look the best they've ever looked this year, and certainly look better than this picture.

Finally, I should really know better than to just leave junk by the compost bins.
It will just attract more junk! There should be a better place to store these stakes and fencing and the compost sieve. And it wouldn't take me but a minute to get behind those bins and pull those tall weeds out. Honestly, this makes my garden look junky. I'm going to take care of it tomorrow morning, I promise.

I'll stop there as I don't want to give anyone the impression that May Dreams Gardens is some kind of junk pit of a garden. I have nice gardens, too. In fact, this past Saturday, I finally re-mulched my big perennial bed and it now looks better than it has looked in several years.

I hope in some strange way this has encouraged at least one new gardener to know that a garden isn't going to be perfect 'day one'. Gardening is a process. And sometimes it is just plain hard work, but the results are absolutely worth it when you taste your very own home grown tomato, or see a new rose with the morning dew still on it, or hear the birds sing and see the butterflies flutter from flower to flower.

Now experienced gardeners, go see Colleen's post with more info on how to participate with your own ugly garden pictures!


  1. Carol, you're awesome :-) Thanks for posting your uglies. I laughed when I saw the photo of your compost bin....I thought I was the only one who had chicken wire, stakes, compost screens, and other miscellaneous "stuff" piled up near my bins! I should take a photo of it...the likeness is uncanny.

    Thanks again!

  2. Carol: Great post! And take heart, your hosta will come back. I have some planted in a very unfortunate place (I'll include it in my own good/bad/ugly post) and the rabbits munch them every year. But they come back. I think that's why hostas are the default garden plant (with daylilies) in the Midwest - you have to work really, really hard to kill them.

  3. Okay, Carol, I'm up for this. Stay tuned...

  4. Glad THAT'S over...


  5. Thanks for a breath of fresh air (and a good laugh) on a hot summer day!

  6. Well! I never!!!

    Actually, I have a bunch of uglies myself. I'm still working up my courage...

    I think this is a fabulous line of discussion. It will ease the minds of all those tender young gardeners who are intimidated by all the bootiful photos we post.

    Robin (Bumblebee)

  7. As usual Carol, you have inspired me! I'm off with my camera right now. Mexican Primrose, here I come!

  8. Hey,
    I must say I'm pretty happy somebody finally brought up a real issue! It's a great way for us to learn from each other. We've all made certain mistakes and it's my humble opinion we should share those, as well as our accomplishments.
    Keep growing!

  9. Meters and wiring are a constant frustration and you can't do much depending on their placement. I just had Verizon move my FiOS box inside, into the basement, so that's one gone. I look forward to the day when all that stuff is done through the airwaves or underground or whatever (I'm no scientist), so there are no more wires and meters to contend with!

  10. I have so much respect for you! I'm shaking with fear, but I'm planning to do this in the morning. I may still chicken out. But I'll try. Or does my entire new garden count? ~A :-)

  11. Carol - I'm loving all this dirty laundry stuff. I will be the first to admit that, sometimes after seeing beautiful pictures on your blogs, I sometimes walk into my own thinking IT'S NEVER GONNA HAPPEN GINA!

  12. Colleen... I'm glad you thought of posting "uglies" and had the courage to do so and ask us all to do the same. It was fun and a bit therapeutic. Thank you!

    Tracy... I look forward to seeing your post of uglies, and perhaps some rabbit eaten plants.

    Kylee... Your post was hilarious, and not so bad!

    Doctor Mom... Happy to oblige, after all, laughter is the best medicine, right? And if we can't laugh at ourselves...

    Robin (bumblebee)... I hope you do get up the courage to post your uglies, though I can't imagine anything too ugly in your garden.

    Bev... I'm looking foward to seeing your "ugly" Mexican Primrose.

    Italman... I agree, it is helpful to share our mistakes as much as our successes. I really think Colleen is on to something here!

    Beth... Yes, utility boxes are an eyesore, but a necessity. I have some big utility boxes in the corner of my front yard, too. So far they just sit in the grass, as I haven't had the time to landscape around them to hide them, even after 10 years...

    Angela (Cottage Magpie)... Don't chicken out, post your uglies, or some of them.

    Gina... It is going to happen. You'll look at your garden one day and just be amazed how nice it is.

    Thanks all for the comments and I hope more garden bloggers post their "uglies" for all to see. Let Colleen know when you do post so she can include a link to you in her post next week of all the "uglies".

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  13. Great fun...makes me feel much better about the place where my longsuffering spouse backed the truck over the edge of my favourite bed (moving staging so he can paint the house). I have uglies too, and I'm a-gonna post them in the next day or so.

  14. I think you have deer eating your hostas - try putting out some Irish Spring on a stick or shave it on the ground.

    I have pictures of what the deer do to Sunflowers! I also have a human theif that stole all my tomatoes. Picked the plants clean. Oh well - have to think that they needed them more than I!

  15. Jodi... I look forward to seeing your post of "uglies".

    Where Fibers Meet Mud... It can't be deer because I have a privacy fence around my back yard and there are no deer anywhere around. I really suspect chipmunks more than rabbits at this point. I am grateful not to have deer, as they can be so destructive. You ought to post some pictues...

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  16. Come on over to my place and check out my Good, Bad and Ugly post. . . A photo story with a moral, too.

  17. This was a serendipitous post for me. I had just been thinking of doing a post on all the parts of my garden that...umm...need attention. (And there are many.) Then I wondered, do people really want to see that? Thanks for pointing out Colleen's post--I'll probably have mine up Thursday night.

  18. Carol, thanks for this. It is encouraging to know that even experienced gardeners with beautiful plants that we admire get behind on the chores. Well, it's encouraging for me, the gardener. I don't think I'll share it with my dear Hubby. I'm sure he's hoping things like this detract from the lawn, which only thrives in his imagination, simply because we're beginners. It'd be nice to have the perfect garden oasis, but it doesn't seem likely to last. I have a whole bed of deer devoured hosta to attest to that.


Post a Comment

Comments are to a blog what flowers are to a garden. Sow your thoughts here and may all your comments multiply as blooms in your garden.

Though there is never enough time to respond to each comment individually these days, please know that I do read and love each one and will try to reciprocate on your blog.

By the way, if you are leaving a comment just so you can include a link to your business site, the garden fairies will find it and compost it!