I've always loved the casual, untamed look of an old-fashioned cottage garden, so I tend to let my plants kind of do what they want (OK, I let them do what they want because I'm too lazy to prune and deadhead, but I prefer to think of myself as having a "style" instead of just being a slacker). Every year, my garden brings surprises, this year moreso than usual. Let's take a look at some of the unintentional beauty bursting out of my beds:
I planted some mixed poppy seeds last year, which germinated well. In my usual lazy fashion, I let them go to seed, so this spring I had poppies popping up all over the place. I meant to move them around a little so they'd be positioned more artfully, but of course that happened. But when the blooms are this beautiful, who needs artful arrangement?
More benefits of not deadheading: I had tons of calendulas sprout up this spring. I did move those around, because they sprouted in my veggie beds. Last year I had calendulas in the corners of three beds. Now I have them in the corners and along the borders of almost all my beds. They're so bright and cheery, and they even last through the winter here. I guess I'll have to figure out what to do with all the seedlings next year, as I'm running out of room for them.
A couple years ago, I forked over way too much money for a tree peony. We had one when I lived in California, and it was gorgeous. So of course I had to have one. Well... the graft lasted the one season and never came back. *Sigh* But the peony that made up the rootstock grew just fine. At first I was annoyed that my gorgeous, blood-red, double tree peony was gone, leaving this simple, single bloom in its place. But this year, I admired the elegant cups formed by the buds, and when they opened, I fell in love with the blush of pink in the petals and the purply things in the center, so the former-tree-peony is staying.
Sometime last winter, I acquired a pot of some unidentified plant. For some reason, I thought it was comfrey. Lo and behold, I trudged out to the vegetable garden, where I'd parked the mystery pot, and found these gorgeous foxgloves growing out of it! I plan to let them seed all over the place, so I'll never be without foxgloves again.
These made the list for two reasons: 1) They are not the fancy Russian fingerling potatoes I ordered and lovingly planted. Those are doing great too, but these sprouted from where I'd dumped some homemade compost last fall. I guess the potatoes I tossed out didn't fully decompose, and here's the proof. Usually when I grow potatoes from something other than treated seed potatoes, they die of blight, so we'll see if these are still around in August. But for now, they're gorgeous--and thriving in part sun behind the compost bin. Go figure. 2) These have the prettiest flowers of any potato I've seen. I don't think anyone thinks of potatoes as ornamental, but these almost qualify.
So what's the point of all this rambling, besides my ego-driven need to show off some pretty pictures? Well, just this: For years I've beaten myself up for not keeping up with garden maintenance, not taking the time to design my beds properly, not planning, etc. I'm not going to do that anymore. These pictures prove that unintentional beauty is every bit as wonderful as the kind that requires a landscape architect. So if you can't afford a pro, and you're too lazy or busy to go to the trouble yourself, don't sweat it! Get yourself some inexpensive seeds, start a few things, and let Mother Nature take it from there. Your yard may not be featured on the next garden club tour, but it will be bursting with beautiful surprises all the same.
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