Is it Mess?

Right about now, over at the home of  Muse-ings , vsperry will be orchestrating order in an area of her garden which she describes as “A Fine Mess”. I would simply leave out the word “Mess” and call it “Fine”, or, as in the case of my own garden, refer to the “Mess” as  ” Channelling one’s inner  “Piet Oudolf” (with apologies to Piet 😉 ).

For the greater part of the summer and fall, this wilderness of mostly self-sown plantings was the scene from my bedroom window.

Wilderness plantings

Wilderness plantings

It was a sight that gave me much pleasure, for all the weeds, entangled foliage and seeming disorder.

Unruly pleasure

Disorder?

The garden bed was not carefully planned like one of Piet Oudolf’s masterpieces (OBVIOUSLY), but I did have a plan of sorts, which was to let the garden follow its own course and,

Unruly or following its own rules?

Following their own rules?  Lightly organised chaos?

thus, provide a dense and closely woven safe haven for the monarch caterpillars, and a well-stocked larder for the bees and their larger selves,  the humblebees.

A haven for a caterpillar?

A haven for a caterpillar?

My plan was a success buzz vis-a-vis buzz the bees, but a failure as far as the monarchs were concerned.  Not one of the many caterpillars made it to butterfly status. That was a disappointment, after my successful monarch season last year, where I helped raise at least twenty monarch butterflies. I don’t know what went wrong this time; perhaps we had too much rain; too little sun? Or, as  Russel Ray pointed out to me, my wilderness garden may have provided a haven for the social wasp, arch-enemy of the monarch.

So, with winter approaching and no longer any chance of monarchs, I embarked on a clean up of the little plot.  It now looks like this. Clean and tidy….and dull.  Not a “Mess” but also not “Fine”. Not yet, anyway. There’s good manure in the soil, and worms, and caterpillar plus bee frass,

so, in a few months, it may provide solace for my senses once again. And, later, much later, the monarchs may be tempted to return. I hope so. I know the bees will come.

Virginia, how is your clean up going? There is no danger that your garden will succumb to DULL. 🙂 It will be clean, tidy and finer than ever.

© silkannthreades

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94 thoughts on “Is it Mess?

  1. Miss Lou

    It’s beautiful! Eclectic and completely random but stunning, really.

    Something I would love to look out of my window and see each morning.
    It will be interesting to see what becomes of it as the time comes for it to go ‘free’ again!

    Miss Lou
    xx

    Reply
  2. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    nasturtiums are such happy flowers, and they always make me smile. i could paint them forever, but i’ve been surprised that they’re not as loved here in ecuador as they are/were when i lived in the usa! people look at the watercolors of the nasturtiums and say, ‘oh yes.. what are those calleld?’

    maybe i should paint a really really really huge painting of nasturtiums to make them shout with the same voice as their rival companions, the heliconias and gingers?!!!!

    Reply
  3. Leya

    I’m sure the monarchs will return…they know how much you care. Caring is what counts – and sometimes you will never know what went wrong.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: On a cake and a prayer | silkannthreades

  5. violetski

    It is not a mess,it’s delightful garden dear Galivanta!
    Nastursiums and boragos are beautiful and still blooming❤️
    Do use their flowers in veg salads too? They are yum!😃❤️
    xxx

    Reply
  6. lensandpensbysally

    I just came inside from a few hours in the garden. Netting blueberries, planting and more planting. I adore this post. Mostly, I wanted to say that your garden is a wonder for all the wild life that we need to encourage. Maybe your already know that monarchs are seeking a variety of the milkweed plants as their hosts for their cocoons. I wrote a few posts about our disappointing year last summer–almost no monarchs the entire seasons. My spirits are HOPING that this year will have them return. At least you did have them. I recall your posts about them. As a gardner for many, many, many moons my goal has always been to reduce the grass, build gardens, develop wildlife habitats, and plant mostly natives. As you well know, gardening is a constant reassessment and cultivation and planning. But I adore my areas that are mature enough to just be. Again your “wild” area is joyful, especially the nasturtiums.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Sally. I wish you could see my poor nasturtiums now. They have been badly affected by the frosts this week. They will recover in time but I am glad I have the photos to remind me of their former beauty. 🙂 I am sending many wishes for lots of monarchs in your garden.

      Reply
  7. mmmarzipan

    Your garden is delightful! One of the things I want most if we buy a summer cottage in the archipelago is “naturtomt”… or nature ground/space/land… where moss, berries and mushrooms spring up where they will! x

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That would be absolutely lovely. On various blogs I have seen photos of the most beautiful summer cottages in Sweden. I do hope your cottage dream comes true.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, it is a different kind of gardening. It was very easy gardening but it worked out very well for everyone and everything, except the monarchs.

      Reply
  8. earthbornliving

    I love the abundance and then the ‘reclaiming’ if only for the winter season ….
    We put the garden ‘to bed ‘ in the Autumn and for half the year it’s low maintenance and looks cared for then the weather warms up ……:)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I probably should put my little garden area to bed with some mulch. It’s tidy but rather naked for the cold weather yet to come. 🙂

      Reply
      1. earthbornliving

        Yes a couple of inches of well rotted manure or compost or leaf mould puts the garden to bed with a blanket …. Stops soil drying out and improves the quality and it does look better too …

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          There was a fierce, short wind storm this afternoon. Nature did its best to cover everything with leaves. Very helpful! 🙂

  9. diannegray

    My garden is completely out of control after all the rain we’ve had here in the tropics. Hopefully winter will give me some time to clear it out as well 😉

    Reply
  10. Joanne Jamis Cain

    I hope the monarchs return to you next year. I am cleaning out my own weeded areas and quite enjoying myself. I head out in the morning before it gets too hot and pull and clip. Last year, my mom was recovering and I did very little gardening. My daughter did a good job of planting more flowers but she’s not much for weeding. So I’ve had my own mess to clean up around here. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Mary Mageau

    I enjoyed this post so much as on occasion we love the tumbled, cluttered look of a cottage style garden. All those daisys and nasturtiams etc. singing their songs to one another. Sadly the monarchs didn’t appear and the cleaned up look of this plot should bring them back. It’s a choice – the helter skelter of nature vs the tidy, tightly contained beds. Both have their place and are equally enjoyable.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, I do think both have their place, Mary, even within the framework of one garden. Love your words “Singing their song together.”

      Reply
  12. Letizia

    I think Piet Oudolf would be proud! What a shame the monarchs weren’t prolific like last year. I am awaiting their arrival in my garden (although I never had as many as you had).

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Perhaps Piet would give me 2 out of 10 for effort. 😀 You have seen his New York High Line gardenscape, I think? I wish you many monarchs. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Mrs. P

    I love a garden that demonstrates wild abandon such as your winter garden. But hearing how it possibly affected the beauties coming into full form, I agree with your decision to tidy up. Hopefully this will be very inviting indeed!

    Reply
  14. tableofcolors

    My garden is clean and tidy and a bit dull at the moment…actually there is not much to look at as it is quite new. We did plant two peonies this past weekend and my Siberian pea shrub (tree version) is sprouting out leaves and little yellow flowers. We planted it last fall and even if everything is still quite barren it is quite exciting to see what might come up! Last week I planted flower bulbs and seeds…hoping for a garden full of life! Your garden is certainly full of life and hope the monarchs come next time around!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I have been working on my garden for 14 years and it always seems to be a work in progress! I am sure your garden will have lots of lovely things to offer as the seasons progress.

      Reply
  15. Mélanie

    I’d say it’s an “organized” mess… 🙂 oh, it’s true: winter draws near in your hemisphere… have a positive week, Miss G! ❤

    Reply
  16. Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

    I love your description of your “riotous” garden – I think that’s the way they should be! Natural and attractive to wildlife and everyone who passes by to admire it. 🙂 I’m sorry to hear about the monarchs; hopefully next year will be a better one for them. They need all the help we can offer, that’s for sure.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sheryl, it was attractive to me (and some wildlife) but I am not sure what neighbours and visitors made of it. Some may have thought “unkempt” was a good word for it. There is a park not far from me which is known as an over-wintering place for monarchs. I must check it out to see if it hosting monarchs this year.

      Reply
  17. thecontentedcrafter

    I love your little wild garden! I share your love for letting nature grow and ramble as she will and for nurturing Monarchs too. I think they are affected in the same way as the bees are by the amount of poisons in the air – every effort to nurture safe havens for them is a good thing! I did not know about the humble bumble change and am much edified! 🙂 You have inspired me to plant a nasturtium seed or two in my uber tiny courtyard garden next spring – one or two will be all I require for maximum effect. I am planning on going vertical! 🙂 Do you know the blog of Robbie over at Palm Rae Urban Potager? I am thinking you two may hit it off!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Vertical sounds exciting! I used to have hanging baskets of nasturtiums. That worked quite well. Thanks for pointing out Palm Rae Urban Potager …a lovely blog.

      Reply
  18. Just Add Attitude

    It’s funny to read about winter approaching as I sit here hoping our summer will soon arrive. I hope the monarchs and bees return and provide that wished for solace for your senses. 😉

    Reply
  19. shoreacres

    Just yesterday I discovered a patch of nasturtiums growing in the midst of a nature preserve. They were such a surprise — I can’t help but wonder if a home wasn’t in the area at some time, before the land was set aside. Amaryllis and lilies of various sorts naturalize easily around here and abound in apparently vacant lots. I’ve never seen the nasturtiums do that.

    The truth is that, if you see “people flowers” and poke around just a bit, you’ll often find concrete slab and other such reminders of houses, now gone. But the flowers remain. Not much that’s more cheerful than that thought!

    I also found enormous patches of a wildflower I haven’t identified yet. The bees certainly didn’t care. There were perhaps hundreds of bumblebees in the fields, pollen-heavy and happy. And I got a beautifully framed photo of a yellow swallowtail butterfly. Too bad it’s too out of focus for posting!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, the flowers do remain. A few years ago my sister and I did a tour of the West Coast of our South Island. We were amazed at the number of “people flowers” we saw in the landscape. I am sure we would have found evidence of houses nearby if we had stopped. At one place, Lyell, we saw the site of an abandoned mining town. The interesting feature here was not so much the escaped flowers but the roosters and the chickens we heard. We couldn’t see any occupied houses nearby so we assumed they were feral. You may find this article interesting. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/perspective/10087094/Whats-growing-in-the-red-zone It is an urban ecology study trying to understand the plant life that is developing in the abandoned area of Christchurch, called the Red Zone.

      Reply
  20. cindy knoke

    Yep. I follow the same scheme as you do. I call it Darwinian garden. I plant a lot and see what thrives. The plants that thrive reproduce and start to cover the acerage. I love your nastursiums and ganzania, two thrivers big time. My herbs and vegetables now all reseed and self sew. I love the look of your natural garden!

    Reply
  21. afrenchgarden

    I think I often crave for dull and tidied up but as I have never reached the sublime state of having the garden in good order, I think I will just stick with you “interesting” euphemism. Amelia

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Once in a very long while I manage to have my garden in good order and, although that is satisfying, I think I find the sublime state in the so called Mess. The bees do, for sure.

      Reply
  22. YellowCable

    I think your fine mess looks fine in my opinion. I saw there are some plants left after the weeds were cleaned out. Are those going to survive winter?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      YC, I think most of the plants left will survive the winter. The heucheras are particularly hardy. Others will die back and hopefully new seeds will sprout come spring time.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Do you have a variety of colours? Mine seem to thrive on neglect. They are very independent plants! They don’t want to be fussed over.

      Reply
  23. pleisbilongtumi

    I tend to like my garden goes wild since I just knew that insects and butterflies love such atmosphere.
    Your fine wilderness looks beautiful, you just need a little effort for them to be weeded.

    Reply
  24. Tiny

    The wilderness outside your bedroom window had lots of beauty! There is a way for nature to follow its own “rules” of order and it’s always pleasing for the eye. I hope for a better year for monarchs…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It really amazes me, Tiny, how all those different plants manage to work out an order where each one of them survives and sometimes thrives. Their cooperation is remarkable.

      Reply
  25. vsperry

    You’re fine mess is so much prettier than mine…I have gotten much inspiration from you, I shall go out today and plant lots of seeds…especially nasturtiums. I’m sorry about your monarchs, something is so very wrong in the monarch world and there is very little that we understand about it. Thanks for the link!!!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I do hope you have more success than I did with the monarchs. I was so sad that something was not right this year. However, as I said, the bees were very happy with the wilderness so that is something good, at least.

      Reply
  26. womanseyeview

    What a lovely mess this natural garden looks and so sad it didn’t work out for the monarchs this year…I remember your post on growing milkweed plants for them. You inspired me to do the same in my garden this year since monarchs here are disappearing too. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Do hope you will keep us updated on your monarchs. It’s possible I made my garden too messy for them. But we also had excessive rainfall this year and that probably didn’t help.

      Reply
  27. KerryCan

    Your garden looks ready for winter–it’ll come back, in full force, I’m sure when the time is right. I really like how unplanned and vigorous it was in the summer–I’m not sure my uptight nature would allow me to let my garden go like that but it’s very appealing!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It will come back. I can already see new shoots on the swan plants ( a bit premature; I think the frost will kill them!). It was hard to let go at first. I don’t know if I will let it do the same next summer. I will see where my mood takes me. The wilderness certainly kept the soil moist and in good condition.

      Reply
  28. Sheryl

    I love the look of the wilderness garden. The nasturtiums and other flowers are lovely (and give me hope that my garden in which I planted nasturtium seeds will be just as lovely in a few months. 🙂

    Reply
      1. Sheryl

        My garden often has gaping holes–so I hope they do spread out a little. 🙂 I think this is the first time I’ve ever planted nasturtiums. I saw the seed packet in the store–and it brought back warm fuzzy memories of nasturtiums I helped my mother plant when I was a tiny child. I immediately knew that I wanted to try them this year.

        Reply
  29. utesmile

    I love the natural wilderness, and look how many beautiful flowers are coming out. Even what we call weeds, have most lovely blooms. In my mums garden are at the moment those beautiful flowers which you had in a post recently and I forgot the name. I shall do a post with the beauties and you know which ones I mean. As it is sunny today I shall take more pictures before I go home on Monday again. It is so peaceful, quiet and calm here. No busy life at all but tranquillity. Shame a out the caterpillars, not making it into butterflies, I do hope they will again next year, they are so important. Wishing you a wonderful day☀

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Ute. So pleased you are having a peaceful time with your Mum. I will look forward to your photos. It is bitterly cold here today but, at this time of the year, that is how it should be.

      Reply
  30. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    Gallivanta – What random beauty you had outside your bedroom window. I’m not sure what will happen with my wildflower garden this year. Last year I was unable to tend to it in the early spring and much of the summer and many of the natives were able to push past the cultivated plants and created the most beautiful wildflower garden I’ve ever had. I’ve said I’ll not be able to keep up with all the gardens this year and that means many plants are being cut back and going into pots. I don’t like pots as much as roots in the ground, but I don’t like pain either.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sometimes pots are unavoidable and some plants seem to prefer them! I have always felt guilty about letting my plants run ‘wild’ but the pleasure I got from this riotous little patch was enormous; birds, insects, bees, caterpillars and beauty. At times it was mesmerising. Your wildflower garden must have been glorious. Virginia at Muse-ings has beautiful sculpture in her garden; something that I lack but would enjoy.

      Reply

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