Once Upon A Garden...

Once upon a garden, there was a gardener who loved all kinds of plants, or most kinds of plants.

She bought plants that she liked and plants that she loved. She let plants follow her home and even kidnapped some plants to take home.

Then she found places to plant them in her garden. Some of the plants were long-time favorites; others were plants that just happened to catch her eye at the garden center.

Sometimes she would look at her garden and think, “I need a shrub here”. And off she would go to the garden center to look for a shrub. Though limited by what the garden centers sold, she would eventually find a shrub or three or five shrubs and bring them home and plant them right where she thought she needed a shrub. And she did the same with trees and perennials.

Soon she had lots of shrubs and trees and perennials and flowers in her garden.

And she was living happily in her garden.

Then one day, she looked at her garden and decided that something was missing. There were plenty of plants, plants that she loved amid plants she had settled for, plants that she didn’t particularly like and plants that she had gotten from others.

There were plants everywhere.

But all the plants together lacked a certain cohesiveness, a sense of place. She studied her garden and looked at her plants and realized…

She didn’t have a garden design.

Or an eye for a design.

So she sent an email to a garden designer and explained her dilemma. She wrote about how she loved plants and gardening, but needed some help. The garden designer responded to the email and came to see the gardener’s garden one evening.

She patiently listened as the gardener went around her garden talking about all of her plants and all of the flaws of her garden. The gardener explained to the garden designer what she wanted in a garden design, what she hoped to do in her garden.

Later the garden designer returned on her own and studied the garden. She looked at it and walked through it and studied it and took pictures of it. And before she departed, she left a book on a bench for the gardener to read.

Then a few weeks later, the garden designer returned with a garden design and went through it with the gardener, explaining it and describing it.

The gardener looked at the design and studied it and asked some questions. She asked for a few tiny changes, and then waited for the garden designer to come back with a quote.

For good garden design isn’t free, my friends, nor are plants or mulch or strong workers who can dig and transplant and tote and carry to turn a gardener’s collection of plants into a well-designed garden.

It didn’t take long for the gardener to decide what to do next and so she said, “Yes, let’s do this; let’s turn this collection of plants, this haphazard design, into a new garden, with all of the elements of design I asked for.”

The End
The Beginning

(Pictured above: Tulipa vvedenskyi ‘Tangerine Beauty’ in my front garden, planted where there was a spot for it, with no regard for a garden design. I had to have it after reading about it on Elizabeth L’s blog, Gardening While Intoxicated, last spring. The garden designer is incorporating experimental gardens for me in my back yard for planting many plants just like this one.)


  1. Thanks for the linkie! It really is interesting to se you arrive at this point with your garden. Makes me want to redesign mine. Hmmm ...

  2. eager to see how it all progresses and to see the end project--a well designed garden. How fun it will be. Susie

  3. I can't wait to see the before's and afters on this fairy tale.

  4. I look forward to seeing the changes in your garden!

  5. Such a tease, and not even a sneak preview.


  6. What an exciting adventure. I will be following along with interest. My recent garden renovation project has brought me lots of joy, and I hope your re-design will do the same for you.

  7. Carol, I do agree with your love of plants. I bring plants home just because I have never grown them before! I have put in a nursery bed, well two one in shade and one in sun in the hope that I can redesign the borders and use these for the plants I buy. BUT the sun nursery bed is planted with sweetpeas, I don't have anywhere else and I must put the plants somewhere after a grew them from seed. I think I am a lost cause - at least for now!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  8. This is so exciting. I can't wait to see your new design unfold. It is really scary because I will be encouraged to do same for my front garden. Same meaning get a designer in here to tell me what to do.

  9. Although I admire a well-designed garden, I think it unlikely that I'll ever take the plunge you're taking. Not because I think "you're doing it wrong" or anything but because of my own inertia (and one bad experience with a so-called designer).

    Therefore, I look on with great interest.

  10. I'm really looking forward to seeing your new garden take shape.

  11. This is very exciting! This is what I would really love to do with my garden, but since I don't see that in my budget at this time, I will just live vicariously through you.

  12. This is exciting and it seems that every end is a beginning in the garden. Design is not my forte. I can't wait to see The Plan in action.

  13. You are going to have so much fun! I "bought" a design 4 years ago and I've been chipping away at it ever since - so great to have a plan. Best of luck.

  14. How exciting for you, Carol! I can't wait to watch it unfold. :)

  15. I agree with everyone else, Carol--I can't wait to see the finished garden, along with some before photos, I hope. I like that idea, though, of a section where you can experiment--I think all my flowerbeds are experiments:)

    Thanks for the suggestions you left on my post; I agree the labels are worthy of study as well. I thought my sturdy paper labels were a clever alternative; what I didn't think about is that once they got wet, they would disintegrate and the ink would run. Now I'm counting on my memory to identify each tiny seedling planted--fat chance of that happening:)

  16. This is such a great post to read. As a gardener, I really appreciate your post and love reading it.

  17. Carol I'm so excited for you, I can't wait to see how everything turns out!

  18. Carol, I'm so happy for you, and what a nice way to tell your story. Can't wait to see how this story unfolds.~~Dee


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