I subscribe to gardening magazines. I have shelves full of gardening books intended for coffee table display. I occasionally troll Pinterest for hours at a time. (Freaking infinite scroll – I can’t stop.) I have watched countless slideshow presentations. I sometimes attend garden tours and the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days. And I happen to work at a public garden that is held to a high standard of beauty and maintenance. Through these sources I discover all kinds of inspiration for my own garden but I also find discouragement and dissatisfaction.
My garden is not like any of those. It is not picture perfect. It’s not garden-tour-worthy. Compared to a magazine spread, it’s a wonky, weedy, wildly over-grown mess. If not for the constant (mostly self-inflicted) barrage of sublime, supertidy beauty, I wouldn’t care because I really do love it just as it is. And the bees, spiders, grasshoppers, hummingbirds (they’re still here!), woodchucks, bunnies, husbands, and dogs seem to think it’s pretty cool too.
But I can’t help wishing that perfection didn’t have to enter into how we judge a garden’s beauty. After all, nature is wild. Unkempt. Imperfect. And so very gorgeous. I fully understand and usually succumb to the impulse to hide the weeds, mow the lawn, and rake the debris before taking a picture of the garden but what if we just took pictures of the garden we love, wonkiness and all? We could post them on blogs and Pinterest and submit them for magazine articles about whatever makes our garden especially awesome. Let’s engage in a gardening revolution: the pursuit of imperfection. Who’s (already) with me?