Plant Manners

Seedlings come up in the darndest places
We need to address the poor manners of some of the plants around this garden. I don't want to point trowels in any particular direction but I believe doing so will help other gardeners.

Of course, the very worst manners belong to the weeds. They usually arrive at this party known as my garden with nary an introduction. Then they stand around the buffet table partaking of the nutrients and sunshine while the invited guests, the plants I actually planted, languish nearby nearly starving for lack of the very nutrients and sunshine those weeds are stealing from them.

The weeds have worse manners than wedding crashers on their worst days.

It isn't just the weeds that have bad manners, as every gardener knows.  I've got raspberries behaving as though they are briars, creeping- no leaping - well beyond the bed I had planned for them.  And when they do that they invade the space of some nearby shrubs.

Well-behaved shrubs, I might add. Shrubs with good manners like a pearl bush and a lilac. The only thing they do that could even be remotely considered poor manners is when they drop their flower petals. But when that happens, I usually just laugh, like you would laugh at a baby eating cake for the first time. It's cute, isn't it?

Other plants show their poor manners by shaking their seeds all over the garden. Asters do that. Then there are asters everywhere.  Sure violas do it, too, like the little cutie growing up in a crack in between two pavers on my patio.  But violas are sweet and little and I actually encourage their self-sowing.  But not so much the asters. It's just rude when they show up clear on the other side of the garden, like that house guest who rudely wanders into that back bedroom you thought you locked the door to so no one could see the mess.  (I imagine such a room, I don't maybe actually have one.)

And trees? Inviting an oak tree to grow in your garden is like inviting a dinner guest who drops his food one piece at a time throughout the entire dinner, and then he gets up after dinner and leaves a trail of food crumbs all the way out of the house.  Those oak trees drop their leaves all fall, all winter, and into spring until little spring buds push the last ones off, finally.  No sense in trying to clean up until the dinner is over and everyone has gone.

But I would never have a garden without these ill-mannered plants, well, except for the weeds. Weeds cannot be excused for their poor manners.  But for all the other plants in the garden, a little self-sowing, a little spreading, a little lingering leaf drop, I can forgive them for that.

After all, they all give the garden a wonderful, lived-in look, the kind of look that invites guests to linger long after dinner. It's a place where guests feel comfortable enough to take off their shoes and stay awhile, enjoying the ambience.

That's the kind of garden I like, the kind of garden I have, a garden filled with ill-mannered, imperfect, but well-loved plants. Where guests and gardeners hopefully feel comfortable enough to stay awhile.


  1. I have some territory hogging cotoneaster that will be dug out next spring. It is 20 feet away from where it was originally planted. Actually, I should have dug it up years ago.

  2. Sounds like a perfect garden style to me. Love those rambunctious self seeders and those that make themselves at home even if they are messy.

  3. Loved this, Carol! I'm not much of a hostess, so I appreciate guests who can make themselves at home, like the self-seeders who liven up the garden party. But they had all better stay out of my back bedroom:)

  4. Lovely story Carol! Groetjes,

  5. I loved this post Carol. Loved it. ~~Dee

  6. So true. I loved this post. Thank you, again, for some inspiration.

  7. Yes, we love to have plants show us the way....even the blooming garlic with its beautiful white flowers is welcome, but what about the Artemesia 'Silver King'...hard to control and yet so good in bouquets!

  8. I agree. I love the self sowers in my garden. Especially the white allysum and the verbena bonariensis!

  9. I've decided that my self-seeding plants are not rude, but generous. How nice of them to give me free plants all over the place!


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