What makes a great garden?
Ask five people this question and you’ll get five different answers. I suppose to me ‘great’ brings to mind images from glossy magazines of perfectly tended beds with perfectly deadheaded blooms and not a blade of grass out of place. If you didn’t know this already, this is not a garden … this is a magazine shoot! Real gardens only vaguely resemble this.
When I was twentysomething I decided I wanted to grow things. My first attempts resulted in a lot of frustration and I thought I just must not have a green thumb. Then my six-year-old stuck some nasturtium seeds in the ground, and … they grew!! Not to be outdone by a grade-schooler, I set out to make my thumbs green.
Over the years I’ve come to know plant names, learned the value of good soil, and perfected growing from seed. I’ve built gardens and ponds and vegetable beds. But to get back to my question, what makes a garden great? Is it good design? Exotic plants? Well-placed statuary? Or does historical significance elevate it to greatness, as in Monet’s Garden, or the gardens at Versailles, or even something more simple like Celia Thaxter’s garden on the Isles of Shoals?
I like to think that “great” is in the eye of the beholder. A great garden will have butterflies, a few weeds, and crayon-box colors … whatever else you decide to put in it doesn’t really matter. Here in July those three things are likely at their peak – basking in the sunshine along with the dragonflies, hummingbirds and (in my case) lazy cats.
Here’s hoping your garden is brimming with the colors of July. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pull some weeds…