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Poppies and alliums add to the natural-verging-on-wild look in this flower garden.

I think I’m ahead of the curve on this one.

“Imperfect Gardening” is described as one of 2018’s hottest garden trends by soothsayers at Garden Media Group. That’s what I’ve been doing for years – ever since I got interested in gardening – because we all know that gardens are never perfect, never finished and always full of pitfalls and plant-fails.

How many times have you welcomed someone into your garden, muttering excuses like “that area’s a work in progress …” or “I’m planning to do something different right there but I haven’t had time” or “oh, I’m afraid the (fill-in-the-blank-plant) you gave me died … didn’t do well … disappeared … stolen,” or “the tomatoes just aren’t doing well this year” – anything to cover for your perceived shortcomings as a gardener.

We strive for beauty, perfection and productivity, but sometimes gardeners can’t see their plants for the weeds (literally).

Now, give it a cool Japanese name – Wabi-Sabi” and suddenly your imperfect garden has cache. Wabi-Sabi is described as “an ancient Japanese practice that appreciates imperfections in life and the ability to age gracefully.”

Wabi-Sabi gardens “imitate nature in a way that allows you to relax and appreciate their humble and imperfect forms … yes, even the weeds.”

Imperfect gardening is all about letting nature be herself, as much as possible. Accept a few dandelions in the sidewalk cracks and popping up in beds and borders.

Reach for fewer chemicals and start a compost pile to feed your soil. Let your plants get a little wild.

The trend embraces finding beauty in imperfect designs through creating gardens using natural, sustainable and locally sourced organic materials. That also means choosing metal, stone, wood, terra cotta and other materials over plastics, as well as repurposing old, vintage and found objects such as iron gates and fences, windows, trellises, old benches, garden implements and tools. I recall, several years ago, marveling at old bed springs propped against a shed and literally covered in rich purple “Grandpa Ott’s” morning glory vine. What a wonderfully imperfect focal point for her garden.

Native plants should be the first choice, as well as plants that are easy to manage and low maintenance, as well as nectar sources for pollinators. Plant perennials and self-seeding plants that will establish themselves and perform for a number of years. Don’t deadhead. Instead enjoy the beauty of letting plants go to seed and feed the birds.

According to Architectural Digest, lawns are falling lower on the “sought-after” list, too. Large grassy expanses are giving way to prairie-influenced lawns with tall grasses, sedges and ground covers, depending on the setting and city regulations.


Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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