Finished Gardens and other mythical places

Winter interest in a garden not yet finished.
A finished garden is a mythical place which does not exist.

If you find such a garden, I guarantee you that there is no gardener there tending it. So therefore, is it really a garden?  (Oh, these long winter nights do force us to contemplate deep matters!)

Gardeners don't want finished gardens, anyway. We want gardens that need some gardening done in them.  We think it is normal to fall in love with a new plant and then re-do an entire section of a garden so that our new plant-love has a place to grow.

And if by chance it appears that a garden is about to be "finished"... well that's not going to really happen in any gardener's lifetime.  But imagine, anyway, that it appears that a garden is about to be finished.  We can't let that happen  We won't let that happen! Instead, we follow the advice of Harry Roberts who wrote in 1901, "Make, or remake, one border every year.  You will thus always have sufficient surprise to afford spice or seasoning to the "settled" part of your garden."

There it is! Permission, almost a command, to re-do a garden border every year. As if we needed permission or orders to re-do a garden border. For we know it is true -- A garden will never be finished as long as there is a gardener there to tend it. 

And we know it is equally true -- A finished garden is a mythical place, one that no gardener really wants to find.


  1. Just when I was feeling comfortable with my garden I have taken a notion to redo a bed. So glad to read that this is NORMAL. I like to think I am normal in some way. :) Have a great weekend.

  2. This is so true. I know in my garden I am constantly changing things. I think that's part of the fun of gardening!

  3. I so agree with your very well-written sentiment. A finished garden is an oxymoron, or maybe it's a gas station with Stella d'Oros, Sedum and Spirea.

  4. Isn't this the dilemma with restored or preserved gardens, ie those with historical interest that are kept just the way the original and perhaps famous gardener kept them? That original gardener was always changing things, yes? But it's impossible to know what that gardener was going to do next.

  5. So true, Carol. The only thing constant is change, even if it is not done by the gardener but by the garden itself. Plants grow, trees make more shade, things die, it is all a process, not a destination.

  6. This is an on-going conflict between myself and my spouse. I always want to change things, she always wants to keep them as is.

  7. Your post made me smile, because I can't imagine ever having a finished garden. Just as soon as one project is complete, I create another. (I think my hubby would be delighted to be "done," however.) This year, it's time for a cutting garden and a pond.

  8. No matter how beautiful, a static garden couldn't be anything but disappointing in the end. So much of the enjoyment is in the process of gardening itself. Fortunately, nature conspires to keep us on our toes.

  9. A fabulous thought Carol. I'm going to have to extend your permission though...I'm still making new beds every year. Too much lawn, too much lawn....


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